‘Women’ in ‘Asia’: An Interrogation

Devleena Ghosh


The articles in this special issue section of PORTAL had their first iteration as presentations in the Eighth Women in Asia Conference held at the University of Technology Sydney in 2005, the theme of which was ‘Shadow Lines’. The concept ‘Women in Asia’ is problematic since some of the major debates in gender or women’s studies have focused on the diversity of women’s life worlds and beings and the contested nature of the term ‘Asia’. As a theme it has the potential to become a holdall phrase for scholarship, research and activist work ‘from Suez to Suva’. However, reflecting on these difficult terms can be a creative and rewarding process. The attempt to locate Australia within the region, rather than within a putative ‘west’, and to deal with her geography rather than just her white history, can be an effective way of challenging many current ‘white blindfold’ discourses. At the same time, gendered analyses of society, politics and culture that attempt a re-insertion of ‘herstories’ into academic discourses have to be sophisticated enough to demonstrate the intrinsic gendering of all-embracing, supposedly ‘neutral’, ideas such as race, nationalism, ethics, and the state, rather than simply ‘adding in’ women. The marginalised spaces of women’s activities have to be legitimated as crucial elements of all social relations, highlighting the intimate relationships and connections between men and women. These concerns animate the papers collected in this issue.


Gender, Asia, women, feminism

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5130/portal.v3i2.345