Invisible Women in History and Global Studies: Reflections from an Archival Research Project
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This article questions the continuing invisibility of the significant scale of the involvement of women in historical movements/moments. The focus is on Mahatma Gandhi-led Civil Disobedience movement (1930-33), which was a historic turning point enabling the political involvement of masses of women in South Asia. Using an individual narrative, multi-archival research, and secondary literature survey, this article contends that the thriving subaltern and feminist historical traditions have had limited impact on historical ‘gender mainstreaming’. Furthermore, the paper argues that revealing the diverse nature and the substantial scale of women’s involvement in social/political change is important for two reasons: firstly, it contributes to a fuller understanding of history and; secondly, because historical research is essential for contemporary policy-making. Reclaiming the role of ordinary women in disparate history writing traditions thus can be a tool to understand and counter persistent gender inequality, in South Asia and in the larger global community.