Unruly voices/Disciplined bodies: Games of truth and desire in kishwar naheed's poetry

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This article examines the poetry of a contemporary feminist poet from Pakistan, Kishwar Naheed (b. 1940). Using Michel Foucault's later writings, I look at the possibility of reading Naheed's poetry as acts of parrhesia where her aesthetic self merges with an ethical voice to create a literature of resistance against laws of patriarchy and the nation-state. I demonstrate how Naheed reshapes the positionality of the poetic "I" and, in the process, transforms poetry-writing into an act of "truthtelling" by creating an assemblage of dialogic voices. I further discuss how Naheed uses this poetic assemblage to specifically challenge the Islamization of Pakistan's legal system under the dictatorship of General Zia-ul-Haq (1977-1988). Finally, I theorize feminist poetry from Pakistan as a discursive "game" of vacillitating truths and desires that women poets like Naheed employ to weave together issues of collective identity and individual performativity through intersecting narratives of gender, religion, and nation.

[Special Issue: Desire, Spirituality and “Regimes of Truth” in Contemporary South Asian Literature]

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)708-726
Number of pages19
JournalForum for World Literature Studies
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2014


  • Feminism
  • Kishwar Naheed
  • Pakistan
  • Parrhesia
  • Urdu Poetry
  • Zina Ordinance


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