My Body Is Not Your Battleground is a two-part photographic exploration of what it means to be a South Asian woman today, specifically in terms of identity, religion, education, employment and femininity.
The title stems from feeling like women are often spoken on behalf of, I see fragments of myself within the women I photographed.a political pawn, a speaking point. Self-representation is important for me, and I see fragments of myself within the women I photographed, who are all bold, creative, progressive and therefore expressive of their own agency. There’s a relentless misconception in the West that South Asian women cannot both represent traditionalism and religion as well as modernity and progress and are oppressed, which is certainly not the case and exhausting to see in the media. The body of work is an aggressive dismissal of this ideology, as well as an insight into a social issue that needs attention to dispel stereotypes.
Part I: South Asian Women & Identity in the UK
The first part features women based in the UK. The identity issues that young South Asian women in the UK experience as a result of the diaspora and conflicting cultural expectations are reflected in the portraits, although it is important that these women are not victims, rather beautiful and unique manifestations of mixed cultures.
Part II: Young Women Growing Up In Pakistan
The second part is a result of my Kickstarter-funded trip to Pakistan where I focused on what it means to be a young woman growing up in Pakistan. I held open discussions about femininity and existence as a young woman in the Pakistani environment and photographed various young women, in the hopes to shatter the image of the oppressed young Pakistani woman we often see in the West. The key issue here was education, as it seemed to central to all of their lives, as well as my own engagement with women’s issues in a space I had never personally experienced.
Sanaa Hamid is a British Asian photographer due to complete her BA in Photography (Contemporary Practice) from UCA Rochester. She often works within the theme of social politics, such as matters of multiculturalism, cultural and religious identity, gender identity and the battleground of body politics, particularly within an Islamic and South Asian context. She is interested in the power of digital communication in creative spaces, particularly for women of colour, and the way it enables them to engage internationally in an exchange of experiences and art.