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LSE thesis on Muslim women in West Bengal wins Bayly Prize

The winning thesis explored the changing lives of Muslim women in Tarakhali village in West Bengal, drawing together the lives of a diverse group of women to ask what it is to be a Muslim woman at this juncture in contemporary India.

indians-abroad Updated: Nov 01, 2019, 03:18 IST
A student of London School of Economics has won the Royal Asiatic Society prize named after Christopher A. Bayly.
A student of London School of Economics has won the Royal Asiatic Society prize named after Christopher A. Bayly.(LSE website)

The Royal Asiatic Society’s Bayly Prize has been won by a student of London School of Economics (LSE) for her anthropological thesis on the lives of Muslim women in rural West Bengal.

The Bayly Prize is named after historian Christopher A. Bayly, whose work began in the 1960s in Varanasi and north India, and went on to make field-defining contributions to 19th century India and global history. Based in Cambridge, Bayly passed away in 2015.

Judges of the 2019 Bayly Prize selected the doctoral thesis titled ‘Weaving lives from violence: Possibility and change for Muslim women in West Bengal’ by Alexandra Stadlen, out of 26 submissions from 11 universities, of which four were short listed, the society said.

The winning thesis supervised by Laura Bear and Mukulika Banerjee explored the changing lives of Muslim women in Tarakhali village in West Bengal, drawing together the lives of a diverse group of women to ask what it is to be a Muslim woman at this juncture in contemporary India.

The prize worth £2,500 is awarded to research in areas of Bayly’s scholarly interest approved for the PhD degree by a British university. Instituted in 2018, its first awardee was Johannes Lotze of the University of Manchester for his thesis on early Ming world order, 1368-1453.

The Royal Asiatic Society was founded by noted Sanskrit scholar H T Colebrooke in 1823. It received the royal charter from King George IV in 1824 ‘for the investigation of subjects connected with and for the encouragement of science, literature and the arts in relation to Asia’.

Its affiliated societies include the Asiatic Society, Kolkata (founded in 1784). Scholars who have been members of the society include Rabindranath Tagore, explorer-writer Richard Burton and archaeologist Aurel Stein.

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