Interview with Madihah Akhter

Portrait of Madihah Akhter

Gender: The Muslim Matriarchies of India

So much of American popular imagery of Muslim women in the United States is comprised of veiled women in poor communities. Such images ironically mask the critical realities of life for women in south Asia in particular. Matriaches often played a dynamic and critical role is shaping societies, culture, and domestic and foreign policy.

In Episode 3 of our Gender series Galen Poor and Joy Block interview Madihah Akhter, a Ph.D Candidate in History at Stanford University. Akhter shares a fascinating set of stories about the Begum of Bhopal, Shah Jahan – a powerful female sultan of one of India’s princely states around the turn of the twentieth century. As Indians across the British Empire conceptualized what an independent India should look like, the Begum offered a vision that prioritized Islamic femininity and princely power. Join us in appreciating how strong leaders like the Begum of Bhopal were able to pressure men, even British men, to grapple with female leadership and women’s opinions on issues of the day.

Stream or download our conversation here.

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