Unveiling the sacred : reading the gendered female body in contemporary Pakistani fiction : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Philosophy in English Literature at Massey University, Manawatu, New Zealand

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Massey University
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The last few decades mark the emergence of the bodyin Western social theory and humanities, where it is being used as a theoretical model and a citical construct to study, analyse and interpret socially situated subjectivities. This research project takes the theoretical framework of the body and combines it with insights from postcolonial feminist theory to critically engage with the depiction of the bodies of South Asian(Pakistani and Indian) women in the novels of Bapsi Sidhwa, a feminist voice from Pakistan. Using the approach of the body as an inscriptive surface, the narratives of The Bride and Water are critically examined to expose patriarchy’s use of culture and religion as powerful tools to establish its hegemonic control over the bodies, subjectivities and lives of South Asian women. Questions of female objectification, marginalisation, socio-religious positioning and agency are the focus of this research, in an effort to highlight the corporeal and gendered existence of South Asian women in the context of Bapsi Sidhwa’s novels.
Bapsi Sidhwa, Pakistani fiction, Women in literature, South Asian women