A Not So Banal Evil: Rokeya in Confrontation with Patriarchy


  • Srimati Mukherjee, Temple University, USA


This essay addresses Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain’s evaluation of the causes of women’s misfortunes in early twentieth century India even as it underscores her invaluable contributions to the improvement of women’s predicament in the public sphere. It shows how unnecessary vilification of activist women, in order to situate them within the limits of a prescriptive patriarchal vision, intensifies the difficulty of their work. Rokeya’s interrogation of such limits remains exemplary in a historical context in which gendered, binary ways of thinking were the norm. The essay also focuses on Rokeya’s strategy of combined exposure of patriarchal ills – both through direct address in her non-fiction and through deployment of artistic tropes in her fiction. In this regard, it locates and analyses a “trope of excess†in her work, a trope that often operates together with more specific themes of illness, entombment and homelessness.


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Author Biography

Srimati Mukherjee, Temple University, USA

Srimati Mukherjee is Associate Professor of English, on the Teaching Track, at Temple University in Philadelphia, USA. She has published over fifteen articles/essays/short stories in refereed journals and anthologies such as The Quarterly Review of Film and Video, Jump Cut, Scritture Migranti (Italy), Feminist Studies, The International Reception of T.S. Eliot and Transnational Asian American Literature: Sites and Transits. She is currently completing work on her book manuscript on representations of women in contemporary Bengali cinema. Her areas of pedagogical interest include Film, American Literature, Women’s Studies and Composition. Her current Committee work focuses on cumulative progress in student writing and international programmes on campus.  




How to Cite

Mukherjee, Temple University, USA, S. (2013). A Not So Banal Evil: Rokeya in Confrontation with Patriarchy. Asiatic: IIUM Journal of English Language and Literature, 7(2), 82–94. Retrieved from https://journals.iium.edu.my/asiatic/index.php/ajell/article/view/319



Articles on Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain