Critical Diasporic South Asian Feminisms in Canada

Feminist Sociology

This roundtable seeks to bring together diverse feminisms in Canada that claim “South Asianness” but challenge the latter’s hegemonic forms as evident in increasing neoliberalism, populism, militarism, and geopolitical realignments that have heightened tensions and animosities between communities and nations. Recent interventions by queer, postcolonial and transnational, genealogically diverse, hybridized, multi-faith, feminist scholars and activists have drawn attention to the ways in which an unproblematized “South Asian” identity can reproduce nationalism, patriarchy, class, authentic forms of religion and culture, language, mythical histories of origin and diaspora. We seek to shift away from a pre-given, naturalized notion of South Asia in our research, organizing and activist practices. We hope to maintain a fluid and inclusive South Asian identity in Canada that recognizes heterogeneous embodiments and histories that transcend South Asia, for example, Canadian born as well as diasporic generations from East Asia, Caribbean, East Africa, Middle East, and others with complex ties to the idea of “South Asia”. We privilege “South Asian” as a provisional space for organizing our collective resistance and critique in recognition of the history of South Asian women’s organizing and activism in Canada. Cognizant of the increasing geopolitical and economic significance of South Asia in global conflict and peace, we seek to rejuvenate South Asianness as a strategic collective project to speak truth to power at local, national and international levels. Among our objectives are To examine the possibilities of building a collective South Asian Feminism beyond identity and nation-state politics. To interrogate who speaks for and as South Asian and the erasures and marginalizations that occur as a result. To examine our relationship to other feminisms, in particular indigenous feminisms. To examine the complicity of hegemonic notions of South Asianness with settler colonialism in Canada. To work in coalition among people with varying attachments to South Asianness.

Discussants: Tania Das Gupta, York University and Amina Jamal, Ryerson and York University


Ayesha Mian Akram, University of Windsor

Binish Ahmed, Ryerson University

Safiyya Hosein, Ryerson University

Peruvemba S. Jaya, University of Ottawa

Sabeen Kazmi, University of Toronto

Maryam Khan, Wilfrid Laurier University

Karimah Rahman, Ryerson University

Organizer: Jane Ku, University of Windsor