Skip to main content



Limiting Secularism is a book for our times. Though scrupulously specific to the context of post-Independence India—and invaluable for that reason—its provocations resonate well beyond the boundaries of the unique nation-space. Working through but pushing well beyond the secularism debates in India, Kumar asks the vital question that few have as yet attempted: what vision and modality of the ethical life will enable those of opposed faiths to live well together?

A work of this kind is not undertaken lightly. Kumar’s assumption of responsibility is everywhere apparent in the seriousness with which she engages the reality of religious violence at multiple levels, theoretical, historical and critical, as the urgent reason for exploring the imaginative possibilities of living otherwise. Intellectual work at such a level of challenge and commitment does nothing less than open the doors of the mind.” Rajeswari Sunder Rajan

"Limiting Secularism is part of the emerging discourse on rethinking secularism in the wake of fundamentalisms of all stripes. Priya Kumar’s cogent, historically grounded, theoretically sophisticated, comparative readings of South Asian literary texts and films makes a significant contribution to contemporary cultural engagements with religion, cosmopolitanism, secularism, and ethics. Kumar’s book is truly superlative in terms of the writing—the clarity, the fluidity, the effortlessness with which dense material is presented is quite an accomplishment.” Sangeeta Ray

ISBN 81-7824-234-6 / Rs 695 / 320pp / hardback / published May 2008 / Co-published by the University of Minnesota Press / For sale in South Asia only


Popular posts from this blog


BUY THE PAPERBACK       FROM THE REVIEWS   Review in SOCIAL HISTORY, USA by Benjamin Siegel The Great Agrarian Conquest represents a massive intervention into the contemporary historiography of South Asia, elaborating upon some conventional wisdom but upending a great deal more of it. Readers might well place this book in conversation with works like Ranajit Guha ’ s A Rule of Property for Bengal (1963) and Bernard Cohn ’ s Colonialism and Its Forms of Knowledge (1997), to which The Great Agrarian Conquest owes some preliminary inspiration. Yet what Bhattacharya o ff ers is a wholly original account of the transformation to agrarian colonialism . . .   Few volumes in South Asian history have been more awaited than this monograph, Neeladri Bhattacharya ’ s fi rst. One of the most celebrated mentors and researchers at New Delhi ’ s Jawaharlal Nehru University, Bhattacharya retired in 2017 after a decades-long career. His formal scholarly output, limited to sev

"Every nationality has its own distinct stench": by G. Kanato Chophy

A wonderfully written and deeply moving new book on society and history in Nagaland over the past couple of centuries has just been published by Permanent Black and Ashoka University in collaboration with the New India Foundation. Its young author, G. Kanato Chophy, is one of the brightest Naga scholars on the Indian horizon from the north-east. Permanent Black asked Kanato to reflect on what’s in his book and why he wrote it. For some time now I’ve been wanting to work on a book called “constitutional Indians” – a concept that I have briefly touched upon in the conclusion of the book you’ve just published. My argument in it is that, for a putatively renegade ethnic community like the Nagas, the “idea of India” hangs precariously in the balance, supported by a piece of paper, the Indian Constitution, which we have until recently understood as a guarantee of equal rights to Indian citizens irrespective of religion, ethnicity, class, and gender. I belong to an emerging class of educated

Dhriti K. Lahiri Choudhury

We are very sad to know that Professor Dhriti K. Lahiri Choudhury has passed away. He died on Friday morning in Calcutta.  Dr Lahiri Choudhury, born in 1931, did many things: with a PhD from Leeds in English Literature, he combined his work with elephants with teaching at Rabindra Bharati University. He was a member of the IUCN elephant group and of Project Elephant. It was a joy for us to publish his Trunk Full of Tales: Seventy Years with the Indian Elephant -- the editorial sessions involved long, old-style sessions of story-telling which should have been around a campfire. He would tell of his many hair-raising journeys across Assam, Meghalaya, Bengal, the Barak Valley and elsewhere, in search of rogue elephants or on arduous elephant surveys, when the evenings always began with emptying blood-soaked boots of leeches; he would talk lovingly of the elephants in his childhood home in Mymensingh -- now in Bangladesh -- their names and foibles; and of drinking elephant milk