Malika Begum’s Mehfil: The Lost Legacy of Women’s Travel Writing in Urdu

Daniel Majchrowicz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Ostensibly, Muslim women in colonial India only rarely wrote travel narratives, particularly in Urdu. In truth, women’s travel writing in Urdu is anything but chimerical, but persistent archival and methodological limitations have led to the neglect and even irrevocable loss of this writing. A recalibrated approach to travel writing and archival practices divulges a vast corpus—but only if we attend to the specific ways in which women’s narratives were produced and circulated. This article offers a primary typology of the formats and fora most often employed by women writing in Urdu, including semi-private (but orally consumed) letters, family newspapers and women’s journals. Using extensive quotations from previously unknown sources, it reintroduces a forgotten corpus to the study of Indian history, literature, and gender studies alike.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)860-878
Number of pages19
JournalSouth Asia: Journal of South Asia Studies
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2 2020


  • Archives
  • South Asia
  • travel writing
  • travelogues
  • Urdu
  • women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Development
  • Sociology and Political Science

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