Symbology and subaltern resistance in Hīra Mandi Mohalla

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This essay examines religious consciousness as a purposive mode of action by subaltern women in a brothel community in Pakistan. In subaltern scholarship more generally and especially in historiography, this consciousness is treated as a ‘pre-political’ form of resistance; it appears as if spontaneously in the modality of insurgency. In the diachronic analysis of subaltern resistance the highly formal or ritual nature of collectivity is shown to exist in terms that are recognizably modern. In other words, where female subalternity is concerned, the marginality of women's lives is attributed to the anomic or dysfunctional character of these traditional modes of social organization. The essay examines possibilities of resistance rendered in the pre-political space of tradition by subalternists. The conclusion is that this identification with the dominant cultural order also has an operative value in the lives of women, but not in the way discourses about subalternity usually describe. Using Durkheim's insight into the social form religious consciousness takes, I examine the nature and potential of resistance by women, concentrating especially on the way the symbolic practices of Shi'a Islam in the mohalla or quarter of Hīra Mandi in the old city of Lahore are appropriated by these women in order to survive at the margins of a patriarchal social order.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-119
Number of pages25
JournalInterventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2011


Dive into the research topics of 'Symbology and subaltern resistance in Hīra Mandi Mohalla'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this