The Quest for National Identity: Women, Islam and the State in Bangladesh

Authored by: Naila Kabeer

Categories: Statebuilding
Sub-Categories: Democratization and Political Participation, Economic Participation, Political Transitions, Post-Conflict Reconstruction
Country: Bangladesh
Region: South and Central Asia
Year: 1991
Citation: Kabeer, Naila. "The Quest for National Identity: Women, Islam and the State in Bangladesh." Feminist Review 37 (1991): 38-58.

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Executive Summary

This article examines the complex interactions between religion and culture in constructing definitions of national identity in Bangladesh and in shaping the political projects of recent regimes. It also attempts to throw light on certain features which differentiate current Islamisation processes in Bangladesh from those in Pakistan and Iran described elsewhere in this volume. In all three countries, official Islamisation programmes were begun in the latter half of the 1970s. In both Iran and Pakistan, however, these programmes went further than in Bangladesh and, despite clear differences in the political forces behind them, had important features in common. Of particular significance was the central place accorded by both to the position of women. Islamic norms of behaviour were enforced more strictly for women through a variety of religious laws as well as the state’s pronouncements on female apparel and conduct in the public sphere.