British Pakistani Muslim Women’s Political Empowerment and Boundary Crossings: Case Studies

Fazila Bhimji


This paper traces the ways in which three Pakistani British Muslim women traverse a series of geographical and ideological spaces in their engagement with social justice issues and electoral politics. The women, all from the northern city of Rawalpindi in Pakistan, have been politically active in Manchester and Blackburn in northern England. Drawing upon in-depth interviews and several informal conversations conducted over a period of four years, I examine how these British Muslim women have resisted some of the constraints upon their lives – including those reproduced through negative media representations – through engagement with a series of spaces: national and regional spaces, geographies of home and family, gendered spaces, racialised spaces and public sites of resistance. 

British South Asian Muslim women’s identities continue to be associated with veiling, forced marriages, honour killings and non-integrated lives within the dominant culture. This essay aims to contest some of these stereotypical assumptions. In doing so, the paper provides insights into varying expressions among racialised populations as well as contributing to scholarship on the confi gurations between space and racialised people.

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Copyright (c) 2010 Fazila Bhimji