Ayesha S. Chaudhry
Dr. Ayesha S. Chaudhry is Associate Professor of Islamic Studies and Gender Studies in the Department of Classical, Near Eastern and Religious Studies and the Institute for Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice at UBC. Chaudhry earned her PhD in Middle East and Islamic studies from New York University and a collaborative MA in Near Eastern civilizations and women’s studies from the University of Toronto.
She is a contributor to the Globe and Mail and has consulted on high-level national and international cases concerning human rights and religious pluralism and freedom, as well as on divorce cases involving Muslim-majority countries. Chaudhry has been an Early Career Scholar at the Peter Wall Institute.
Ayesha S. Chaudhry was the 2015-16 Rita E. Hauser fellow at Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University. She is the author of Domestic Violence and the Islamic Tradition: Ethics, Law, and the Muslim Discourse on Gender (Oxford University Press, 2014).
Primary Recipient Awards
Smiling to their faces:Emotional labour, race and the university
Academia often proudly promotes the self-conception that the university community is post-race, or is exempt from the daily effects of implicit bias and racism because it cultivates scientific knowledge, the life of the mind, and scholarly objectivity. In fact, academia is an environment in which racial dynamics play out in an exacerbated fashion, in no small part due to the relatively small proportion of faculty of colour in North American universities. Recent scholarship, such as Joseph and Hirshfield (20I0), notes that this underrepresentation leads to ‘cultural taxation’ that places added expectations on faculty of colour to perform beyond their white counterparts. This Roundtable will be centrally concerned with making these invisible forms of labor visible, especially ’emotional labour.’ As an example of emotional labour, Moore (2008) points out that students of colour in elite law schools “must manage their emotions and the ways in which they choose to express them in order to negotiate the contradictions between their experiences in a racialized space and the institutional norms that equate objectivity with cairn, disconnected emotive responses.” We want to expand and extend how we think about the emotional labour of faculty of colour, how that labour ultimately benefits educational institutions, how it shapes the lives and careers of faculty of colou, and what kinds of structural and institutional change would be necessary to make colleges and universities more equitable intellectual, social, and work environments.
As a Wall Scholar, Dr. Chaudhry is working on a project that constructs a feminist Shari’a by re-imagining the narrative of ‘Ā’isha, Muḥammad’s youngest wife. Constructions of ‘Ā’isha are central to justifying and supporting patriarchal Islamic laws, especially those regarding women’s political and religious leadership, women’s testimony, polygamy, child marriage and virginity testing, slander and corporal punishment for illicit sex, and domestic violence. Therefore, creating a feminist narrative of ‘Ā’isha is necessary for Islamic legal reform.
Chaudhry is examining premodern, patriarchal constructions of ‘Ā’isha, investigating modern Muslim debates around these laws, and proposing strategies for reimagining ‘Ā’isha to frame a narrative for a gender-equal Islamic law. Looking at major Muslim debates about gender through the lens of ‘Ā’isha will provide a counter-narrative to conceptions of a patriarchal Islam.