Thinking about a Muslim women's group in Durban

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Seminar Date
February 24, 2010
This book is about how the women of the Women’s Cultural Group, women with limited formal power in the spaces both of politics and custom, re-defined their citizenship through membership to a voluntary association they themselves created. It is also about that very practice of ‘getting down to doing some solid work for the community’, and the meaning this work has had over time, both for the women themselves and for the communities it has served. Over the decades, their efforts have raised millions of rands for educational bursaries and charity organizations, produced a best-selling and internationally acclaimed cookbook series, organized hundreds of cultural and scholarly public events and contributed untold hours of time, talent and labour to social upliftment and development. Through these engagements, members of the Women’s Cultural Group crafted legitimate spaces in which they could publicly assert their creative power and their socio-political ideals. They utilized informal and customary roles to rework formal conceptions of civic agency and identity during a period when apartheid policies were assigning racialized significance to these roles. Their activities engaged them deeply also in the work of cultural production, contributing to the creolization of Durban’s diverse Indian population and its diasporic self-understanding. Over its fifty year history, the Group reflected changes in national and religious politics, local family structures and educational opportunities—and also influenced these changes.
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