introDuction
Writing Difference

This book studies the production of Muslim women as invisible and op-
pressed/backward in the written history of late colonial Bengal. Unlike in
projects of recuperation, the intent here is not to correct the problem of invisi-
bility/silence of Muslim women by recovering them as visible/vocal subjects
within the familiar terms of conventional history—a history that denied them
such presence in the first place. Instead, my focus is on understanding the dis-
cursive and material contexts that have historically produced Muslim women
as victimized, invisible, and/or mute. What I seek to make visible in this
project, in other words, is not so much Muslim women but rather the contexts
of their specific (dis)appearances in writing and the ways in which they have
been marginalized and/or made to (dis)appear within both the conventional
(colonial and nationalist) and critical historiography of colonial Bengal.
Feminist scholars have amply documented the phallocentric tendencies of
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