The proposed panel seeks to charter some of the necessary methodological steps to establish a proper comparative / interactive historical "The proposed panelation, beyond traditional “areas studies" and 'nation -states', yet informed by local knowledge and contexts, to link it more closely to current efforts towards the establishment of connected Histories. Narratives/Historiographies of the Indian Ocean world have predominantly been through a male perspective alone, even though there were millions of women who have been historically living and moving across the littoral. From such microsites as hybrid families formed through inter-ethnic and interregional marriages, to such macrosites like forced migrations of slaves and indentured labourers, women have been at the centre of maritime social and cultural histories. The existing scholarship however has rarely addressed this aspect, and this panel proposes to address this lacunae by presenting three remarkable historical contexts/cases: of Ceylonese female slaves in South Africa in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries; of matrilineal and matriarchal Muslims of Asian and African coastal communities; and of a Mappila Coast Moor woman called Ayesha Rauf. The recent literature in the fields of legal and social histories and sociologies of everyday life, family networks, and transnational movements have begun to address the ways in which the oceanic space has affected and effected the lives of women in different ways and scales. The family trajectories of Eurasian communities of South and Southeast Asia (Sarkissian 2000; Mallampalli 2008; Walker 2012) and the legal and social battles of women in colonial Singapore and post-abolition Zanzibar against the patriarchal systems of colonial regimes, Muslim families, and Islamic and European laws (Stockreiter 2015; Stiles and Thompson 2015; McMahon 2013; Yahaya 2012) exemplify the growing scholarly interest in the field. Although situated in the maritime contexts, none of these studies have directly addressed the "oceanic" component as such. Our respective papers would further the nuances of female mobilities in the Indian Ocean world through forced and voluntary circuits of precolonial, colonial and postcolonial Asia and Africa. On the basis of three different tales, the panel will discuss the importance and implications of understanding the oceanic littoral through a gendered framework..
Islamic law has been a realm of patriarchal conceptualizations in which not only the Muslim patriarchal practices but also the patriarchal backgrounds of Western scholars spilled over to the studies about Muslims and Islam. Although some scholars have tried to overcome these projections onto the non-Western societies, such preconceptions have dominated the academia, particularly the Islamic (legal) historiography. The ways of understanding matrilineal Muslim communities have suffered the most. Both in the past and in the present, Muslims in different parts of Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Sri Lanka, Mozambique, and Comoros follow different forms of this women-centered social system. The existing literature mainly construed up by anthropologists and historians also has not studied these communities in a connected and comparative perspective and has ignored the centrality of Islam and Indian Ocean networks to the matrilineal system. Against this background, this international conference aims to address these lacunae with theoretical engagements on the basis of empirical researches. It also aims to explore the ways in which the followers of the matrilineal Islamic praxis defended the system within the Islamic legal epistemologies and within the maritime social systems. This in turn helps to understand how the matrilineal Muslims of the Indian Ocean constructed their own versions of Islam and its laws, often in conflict and by compromise with the dominant patriarchal perceptions and narratives.
Chair: Mahmood Kooria Dennis McGilvray (Boulder, Colorado): “Avoiding Islamic Inheritance: Matrilocal Marriage and Women’s Dowry Houses in Sri Lanka and South India” Aleena Sebastian (Hyderabad): “Strategies and Negotiations: Muslim Women’s Engagement with the Transformation of Matrilineal Tharavad in Malabar” Yasrul Huda (State Islamic University, Padang): “Sharīʾa engagements of the matrilineal society of Minangkabau, Indonesia” Signe Arnfred (Roskilde): “Implications of Matriliny: Gender and Islam in Northern Mozambique” Daria Trentini (Drake, Des Moines): "'Majini have their own habits, but they understand each other very well': Islam and matriliny encounters in spirit possession in Nampula city (northern Mozambique)"