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Showing posts from September, 2021

SHERALI TAREEN: DEFENDING MUHAMMAD IN MODERNITY

WINNER OF THE AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF PAKISTAN STUDIES BOOKS PRIZE 2020 Finalist for the American Academy of Religion Award for Excellence, Analytical-Descriptive Studies     In this groundbreaking study, SherAli Tareen offers the most comprehensive account of the longest running dispute in modern Islam: the Barelvī–Deobandī polemic. The Barelvī and Deobandī groups are two normative orientations with beginnings in colonial South Asia almost two hundred years ago, yet their differences haunt the religious sensibilities of South Asian Muslims even today. Tareen challenges those who see intra-Muslim contest through the prism of liberal-secular binaries like legal/mystical, moderate/extremist, and reformist/traditionalist. He argues that the Barelvī–Deobandī polemic was animated by “competing political theologies” – contrasting visions of the normative relationship between divine sovereignty, prophetic charisma, and the practice of everyday life. Based on a close reading of unexplored print

"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

CHRISTIANITY AND POLITICS IN TRIBAL INDIA by G. KANATO CHOPHY

“Richly researched and stylishly written, Kanato Chophy’s social history of Naga Christianity is a major contribution to the literature on a vital, fascinating, yet massively under-studied part of South Asia. This book will be read, and its arguments debated, for years to come.”  RAMACHANDRA GUHA Landlocked and remote, the mountain state of Nagaland in north-east India has, within a century of missionary contact, become the most Baptist state in the world. Nearly 80 per cent of Nagaland’s two million people are devout Christian adherents of this sect. This makes Nagaland the religious outlier of India – a country in which about 80 per cent of the population is Hindu. How has this come to be? G. Kanato Chophy chronicles the historical and socio-cultural processes by which Naga tribals – known a century ago as “primitive headhunters” – were transformed into a vibrant and politically assertive community of the Christian faith in colonial and post-Independence India. Besides outlining the

Reading Savarkar: Vinayak Chaturvedi

Vinayak Chaturvedi's Hindutva and Violence: V.D. Savarkar and the Politics of History will be published in 2022 by Permanent Black and Ashoka University, and subsequently by the State University of New York Press. Here is a taster, out now in Scroll.   Reading Savarkar: Was the Hindutva icon actually Hinduphobic? Accusations of Hinduphobia in those who do not see eye-to-eye with Hindutva have reached new heights in recent years. An obscure 19th-century concept is now the default mantra for Hindutva-vadis against all critiques of their ideas. The recent furore against the upcoming conference called “Dismantling Global Hindutva” (September 10-September 12) has made me wonder whether, ironically, these same individuals might also – if they had the patience and capacity to read his large corpus of writing – need to identify Vinayak Damodar Savarkar as Hinduphobic.  After all, a basic truth made clear in Savarkar’s writing is that Hindutva is not Hinduism . They are not equivalents. In