The developments in citizenship in India that took place in 2019–2020 witnessed intervention from women belonging to minority communities who have emerged as forebears of resistance to the authoritarian-masculine imposition of citizenship as religious exclusion in the form of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), 2019. The article revisits the women protests against the Act through the lens of ‘acts of citizenship’. The Shaheen Bagh protests, as these are called popularly, have been studied mainly as Muslim women exhibiting their defiance against a draconian law adversely affecting them. I argue that these protests can be interpreted as acts of citizenship where women spearheaded demonstrations against the Indian state to withhold their rights of citizenship as ‘activist citizens’, asserting the constitutional value of respecting diversity and democratic citizenship, thereby demonstrating ‘constitutional patriotism’. The article contributes to the ongoing debate on gendered citizenship in India providing an alternative approach, moving away from the popular binaries of ‘cultural diversity’ and cultural nationalism’.
Papia Sengupta, Making (Ab)sense of Women’s Agency and Belonging in Citizenship Debates in India: Analysing the Shaheen Bagh Protests as ‘Act(s) of Citizenship’, Social Change, 2021.