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Humaira Chowdhury

RHS Marshall Fellow

Humaira completed her BA and MA in Sociology at St. Xavier’s College, Kolkata before moving on to do an MPhil at the Centre of South Asian Studies, University of Cambridge, and is now working on her PhD at the Faculty of History.

Humaira's research

Humaira’s doctoral research focuses on Muslim artisanal communities in Bengal and India after partition in 1947. Her project is entitled, ‘Hanging by a Thread: A Social and Economic History of Darzis (Muslim Tailors) in Calcutta, 1947-1967’. Her thesis aims to bring together two different strands of literature: on immobility and artisan agency, in the context of Muslim stayers-on in West Bengal. Humaira recontextualizes the urban political history of Muslims, mainly artisans and cloth merchants, who stayed on in West Bengal after partition (1947-1967) as resilient survivors rather than passive victims of ghettoisation and state control. Without understating the realities of ‘stuckness’ and immobility—entrenched poverty, obligations of care-work, communal intimidation and everyday indignities—her thesis demonstrates how some Muslim tailors, in fact, thrived within these threatened and seemingly uninhabitable contexts.

Humaira’s research interests lie at the intersection of work, migration, gender and community histories. In her recent article, she examined Muslim women’s self-fashioning in post-colonial India by drawing attention to the life and times of a much neglected twentieth century political figure, Begum Qudsia Aizaz Rasul, the first and only Muslim woman in the Constituent Assembly of India. In the future, Humaira would like to turn her thesis into a book. 

Publications

‘The Life and Times of Begum Qudsia Aizaz Rasul: An Exploration of Muslim Women’s Self-Fashioning in Post-Colonial India’, Journal of South Asian Studies, 44:2 (2021), 264-281