27.3482, Diss: Proverbs and Patriarchy: Analysis of Linguistic Sexism and Gender Relations among the Pashtuns of Pakistan

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LINGUIST List: Vol-27-3482. Fri Sep 02 2016. ISSN: 1069 - 4875.

Subject: 27.3482, Diss:  Proverbs and Patriarchy: Analysis of Linguistic Sexism and Gender Relations among the Pashtuns of Pakistan

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Date: Fri, 02 Sep 2016 14:49:33
From: Noor Sanauddin [noor.sanauddin at upesh.edu.pk]
Subject: Proverbs and Patriarchy: Analysis of Linguistic Sexism and Gender Relations among the Pashtuns of Pakistan

 
Institution: University of Glasgow 
Program: PhD Sociology 
Dissertation Status: Completed 
Degree Date: 2015 

Author: Noor Sanauddin

Dissertation Title: Proverbs and Patriarchy: Analysis of Linguistic Sexism and
Gender Relations among the Pashtuns of Pakistan 

Dissertation URL:  http://theses.gla.ac.uk/6243/1/2015SanauddinPhD.pdf

Linguistic Field(s): Ling & Literature
                     Sociolinguistics

Subject Language(s): Pashto (pus)


Dissertation Director(s):
Francesca Scrinzi
Jennifer Smith
Roona Simpson

Dissertation Abstract:

This study analyses the ways in which gender relations are expressed and
articulated through the use of folk proverbs amongst Pashto-speaking people of
Pakistan. Previous work on Pashto proverbs have romanticised proverbs as a
cultural asset and a source of Pashtun pride and ethnic identity, and most
studies have aimed to promote or preserve folk proverbs. However, there is
little recognition in previous literature of the sexist and gendered role of
proverbs in Pashtun society. This study argues that Pashto proverbs encode and
promote a patriarchal view and sexist ideology, demonstrating this with the
help of proverbs as text as well as proverbs performance in context by Pashto
speakers.   

The analysis is based on more than 500 proverbs relating to gender, collected
from both published sources and through ethnographic fieldwork in the Khyber
Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. Qualitative data was collected through 40
interviews conducted with Pashto-speaking men and women of various ages and
class/educational backgrounds, along with informal discussions with local
people and the personal observations of the researcher.  
The study is informed by a combination of theoretical approaches including
folkloristics, feminist sociology and sociolinguistics. While establishing
that patriarchal structures and values are transmitted through proverbs, the
study also reveals that proverbs‘ meanings and messages are context-bound and
women may, therefore, use proverbs in order to discuss, contest and
(sometimes) undermine gender ideologies. More specifically, it is argued that:
(1) Proverbs as 'wisdom texts' represent the viewpoint of those having the
authority to define proper and improper behaviour, and as such, rather than
objective reality represent a partial and partisan reality which, in the
context of the present research, is sexist and misogynist. (2) While proverbs
as 'texts' seem to present a more fixed view of reality, proverbs as
'performance in context' suggest that different speakers may use proverbs for
different strategic purposes, such as to establish and negotiate ethnic and
gendered identities and power which varies on the basis of gender, age,
ethnicity, and class of the interlocutors.  

The thesis concludes that, rather than considering folk proverbs as 'factual'
and 'valuable' sources of cultural expression, scholars should pay more
attention to their 'performatory', 'derogatory' and 'declaratory' aspects as
these often relegate women (and 'other', weaker groups) to a lesser position
in society.




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