Barbara Metcalf describes the frustrations and breakthroughs over nearly forty years that brought her to the conclusions in her 2022 CSSH article, “A Sovereign and Virtuous Body: The Competent Muslim Woman’s Guide to Health in Thanawi’s Bihishtī Zēwar(1905).”
In this issue authors address the question of how putatively universal rules—imperial dictates, state laws, economic regimes, and consequential categories of social life like “religion,” “the market” and “indigeneity”—are translated into local vernaculars and adapted to local sites and singular needs. The process is rarely without friction, resistance, cost, or contest. To take a hydraulic metaphor, the essays offer a comparative viscosity of the force and limits of
flow. When standardizing classifications infill regional uses and users, what sorts of detours, dams, floods, and muddied waters follow? What new springs irrupt?