Half-Women or Half-Dreams? A Talk by Raza Naeem

Monday, October 24, 2016 - 6:00pm
Faculty Lounge, VC Office

Half-Women or Half-Dreams?

The Lives and Afterlives of Ismat Chughtai’s Women in Pakistan


Date: Monday, October 24, 2016

Time: 6:00 PM

Venue: Faculty Lounge 


 ‘But Gurudev (Rabindranath Tagore) used to say: “O woman you are half woman, half dream!”

Had someone asked for his wife’s opinion, she might have said that Gurudev himself was a total dream as well as the most beautiful interpretation of a dream too! 

But “women are not messengers”…..”women are not prophets”….”women are not spiritual”. 

Then why doesn’t anyone stand up and say that “Women are not women!”’ 

Ismat Chughtai is regarded as one of the greatest Urdu fiction writers of the 20th century. October 24 marks her 25th death anniversary. While in India she is feted and commemorated, in Pakistan, this unrelenting and daring champion of women’s rights and feminism has been consciously ignored. In a contemporary landscape of serials, films, and Pakistani literature in Urdu and English that increasingly advocate submission and stereotyping of women, Chughtai’s life and legacy remain important. Raza Naeem’s talk will explore the lives and afterlives of Ismat Chughtai’s women, drawing on an original translation of Chughtai’s little-known essay Aurat (Woman). The essay which provocatively lays bare the hypocrisy of the male champions of women’s rights and the myths they have constructed about (our) women, and proceeds to invent nothing less than a new language for the women of our own time.

About Raza Naeem:  

Raza Naeem is a social scientist, book critic, and award-winning translator and dramatic reader based in Lahore. He studied Political Economy at the University of Leeds and Middle Eastern History and Anthropology at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. He is currently the President of the Progressive Writers Association in Lahore, and founded Pakistan’s first Banned Books Week, which has now completed its third year. The recipient of a Charles Wallace Trust Fellowship in the UK for his translation and interpretive work on Saadat Hasan Manto's essays, he is presently working on translations of Sibte Hasan, Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi and Abdullah Hussein. He contributes regularly to The Friday Times and Newsline.