ZiF Research Group

Global Contestations of Women's and Gender Rights

October 2020 – July 2021

Convenors: Alexandra Scheele (Bielefeld, GER), Julia Roth (Bielefeld, GER), Heidemarie Winkel (Bielefeld, GER)

Shirin Zubair


FotoDepartment of English,
Kinnaird College for Women (KCW), Lahore, Pakistan
E-Mail: shirin_zubair@hotmail.com


Shirin Zubair studied English Language and Literature at University of Multan, Pakistan (1982-83) followed by a Masters and PhD in Linguistics at Cardiff University, UK (1994-2000). In 1984, she joined Baha-ud-Din Zakariya University, Pakistan and taught there as lecturer, associate professor and professor until 2013; She was twice named the chair of the deaprtment of English during her tenure. She completed her postdoctoral research project on Pakistani women's literacies and identity as a Fulbright scholar at University of Texas, Austin, USA (2002-03), and taught courses on Pakistani literature, culture and identity at Lehigh University (2009) and Central College, Iowa, USA (2007). In 2014-2016, she held senior fellowships at the Centre for Multilingualism in Society and Centre for Gender (STK) at University of Oslo, Norway. She has also held senior research positions in Germany at Kate Hamburger Kollege, and Berlin Graduate School of Mulsim Cutures & Societies at Freie University during 2014. Since 2017, Shirin Zubair is Professor of English & Linguistics at Kinnaird College for Women, Lahore, Pakistan .

Current Main Research Interests

Zubair's current research focuses on the emergence of women's marches in Pakistan's major cities since 2017 as indigenized feminist movements along with the changing linguistic landscape of aurat march posters and visuals. Although polarization exists on this crucial issue, the use of vernacular expressions in their slogans – i.e. aurat march – would have strong bearings on how Pakistani activists and feminists can and will vernacularize the fight for women's rights. This research addresses the questions: How are the indigenous movements linked with similar movements globally, if at all? Why and how do women belonging to different social classes take up different modes of communication to argue about their rights? How do lay people read/interpret texts or the linguistic landscapes differently (in terms of age, gender, social positioning)? The data includes posters and visuals of aurat march as well as recordings focus groups and interviews of different stakeholders.

Five selected publications with particular relevance to the Research Group
  • Zubair, S. (2020) Development Narratives, Women and Media in Pakistan: Shifts and Continuities. In E. Dawson Varughese and Rajindra Dudrah (eds.) Graphic Novels and Visual Cultures in South Asia. London: Routledge.
  • Zubair, S., & Zubair, M. (2017) Situating Islamic Feminisms: Lived Religion, Negotiation of Identity(ies) and Assertion of Third Space by Muslim Women in Pakistan. Women Studies International Forum, 63: (17-26)
  • Zubair, S. (2016) Theorizing Institutional Feelings, Bodies and Spaces: the Case of Feminism and Women's Studies in Pakistan, Feminist Formations, 28.3 (95-120)
  • Zubair, S. (2010) Not Easily Put-Downable: Magazine Representations and Muslim Women's Identities in Southern Punjab, Pakistan, Feminist Formations, 22.3 (176-195)
  • Zubair, S. (2009) Semiotics Ideology and Femininity in Popular Pakistani Women's Magazines, Hawwa Journal of Women in the Middle East and the Islamic World, 7.3 (229-248)