Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in History (PhD)

Degree Level





Joel Gordon

Committee Member

Raisur Rahman

Second Committee Member

Laurence Hare Jr.


Cultural history, Gender history, Memory, Oral history, South Asian literature, Women and literature


The women’s journals published in Urdu during the first decades of Pakistan were vital to understanding the middle-class aspirations for a new national identity, since independence raised concerns among the dutiful citizens for the reformation of the new society, particularly concerning private lives. The writers and readers of these journals belonged to a generation whose lives and ideas had been formed by the Muslim reform literature of late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. From the independence of Pakistan in 1947 to roughly the 1960s, writers in women’s journals engaged in refashioning the ideas of a new Pakistani middle-class respectability, foreseeing that society would go through dramatic transformations as a consequence of the end of colonialism and founding of a new nation-state. This panoply of writings from intellectuals’ accounts and texts asserts that this respectability could only be molded by crafting a new home, as well as homeland, and by reexamination of the “women’s question” after Partition. Within and without the home, women were depicted as a key component of national and cultural identity. The writers in women’s journals, men and women, renewed debates to assess and analyze women’s position in both their homes and a new country. The articles they wrote, categorized as reformed and advice literature, covered everything about the family, ranging from guides to etiquette, house management including servants, child-rearing, respecting elders, and how to achieve a cultured life. They also manifested women’s education and professional engagement so that “new” women could play an instrumental role during the consolidation of the state. The readers of these journals had role models from the pages of the magazines, as well as the life lessons to work towards virtue.

Available for download on Wednesday, May 17, 2023