Upcoming IMES seminar: Women madrasa teachers in north India

October 28, 2010 § Leave a comment

An upcoming seminar which may be of interest to RASEN members:

Dr Patricia Jeffery, Sociology and South Asian Studies will give a paper entitled Leading by Example: Women madrasa teachers in north India to the Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies research seminar

Monday 1 November, 2010, 5.30pm, 19 George Square, Edinburgh (room G2)


Leading by Example: Women madrasa teachers in north India

Patricia Jeffery, Roger Jeffery (University of Edinburgh) and Craig Jeffrey (University of Oxford)

This paper reports on research carried out in Bijnor district (western Uttar Pradesh, north India), where most of the madrasas have links with the large seminary in Deoband, some 60 km away, west of the River Ganges. Their ambience is inflected with the priorities and emphases of the Deoband tradition, of which personal improvement through education is crucial. A few of the madrasas we studied employed women (ustānīs) to teach female pupils. This paper focuses on one such madrasa and addresses the limitations of the impact of the ustānīs’ authority in relation to their male colleagues, in regard to their pupils and in the light of wider social and economic considerations.

Within the madrasa environs, male staff were undoubtedly in charge; they generally had higher formal qualifications and the requirements of parda norms limited the ustānīs’ capacity to influence how the madrasa was run. The ustānīs apparently had more prospects of exercising authority over their pupils, yet large class sizes and the pupils’ young age and poor rural backgrounds militated against achieving great success in ‘civilising’ the girls in their charge. Moreover, adopting a wider framework of the political economy of gender and religious community in north India enables us to see that these ustānīs could do relatively little to disrupt the marginalised position of Indian Muslims: their pupils were not equipped to transcend the ‘communal’ divide and these women’s impact remained encapsulated within a Muslim sphere of influence.

RASEN launch

October 27, 2010 § Leave a comment

RASEN was formally launched with a talk by Dr Steven Sutcliffe of the University of Edinburgh’s School of Divinity on the topic: ”Religion': What are We Talking About?’

Steven noted that the term ‘religion’ operates “as a theoretical, indeed a meta-theoretical, lingua franca between disciplines”. However, it was crucial to be aware that the term also, simultaneously, operates “as an ideologically charged and created category”.

Dr Steven Sutcliffe

The launch event and short reception was well attended with staff and students from across the University community contributing to a stimulating and friendly discussion.

Welcome to RASEN …

October 24, 2010 § Leave a comment

Welcome to the new blog of RASEN – the Religion & Society Edinburgh Network



The University of Edinburgh’s Religion & Society Edinburgh Network (RASEN) aims to bring together academics, post-docs and postgraduate students with a close interest in the study of religion in society. RASEN aims to facilitate and foster research and teaching collaborations, joint activities, grant applications etc.

The Network is jointly co-ordinated by Barbara Bompani (Centre of African Studies), Betsy Olson (Institute of Geography) and Michael Rosie (Sociology/Institute of Governance).

Thanks to the Roberts Fund an initial lunch was held in June 2010 bringing together academics and students from four Schools within the University of Edinburgh – Divinity, GeoSciences, History & Classics, and Social & Political Science.

The Network – which is consciously cross-disciplinary – will be formally launched on Monday 25th October 2010. You’ll find more information about RASEN here.


This Blog will primarily be used to circulate news about upcoming RASEN events as well as seminars and conferences of interest to Network members: please use the e-mail subscription button to sign up for updates!

RASEN LAUNCH, 25 October 2010

To launch RASEN, Dr Steven Sutcliffe of the School of Divinity, will present a talk entitled ‘Religion”: What are We Talking About?’  The launch event will be held from 4.00 to 5.30 pm on Monday, 25 October, in the Old Library, Institute of Geography, Drummond Street, Edinburgh. All welcome.

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