South Asian Islam has a unique and fascinating history. Quite unlike many other places in the globe that came under Islamic influences the multicultural and plurilinguistic tapestry of South Asia made it necessary for Islam to negotiate and often cohabit with a host of local customs and traditions which gave the religion a special complexion and a special flavour.
Of late, there has indeed been a discernible intellectual ques- tioning of certitudes and the present work, it is only fair to say, contributes quite splendidly to that project. Its first intention is to cast doubt upon commonly accepted constructs like ‘Eastern Philosophy’ for, arguably, there is no one such thing that would qualify as such.
Abeysekera has given us a cogent political anthropological study of postcolonial ideological formations in the guise of an anthropology of religion in Sri Lanka. He explores these formations in chapters on the relation of theories of religion to culture concepts, the identitarian flux of postcolonial monkhood, the conjuncture formed between Buddhism and political parties, emerging religious identities in the confrontation with Sri Lankan modernity, religion, governmentality and rhetoric, the entry of religious norms into the quasi-secular political sphere and the ratio between political terror and religious identity.
Contemporary writings have enormously widened and enriched the field of ‘Partition Studies’, shifting the focus away from the politics of the ‘high table’ to subaltern perspectives, from meta-narratives to the regions partitioned and from attention to the causes of partition to concern about its human consequences.
Seven of the nine contributions to this collection of essays were presented as papers at a workshop held in Oxford in 2004, sponsored by the Coventry University South Asian Studies Centre and Balliol College, University of Oxford. Editor Ian Talbot, formerly director of the Coventry South Asian Studies Centre and presently Professor in the University of Southampton,
The Muslims after the Indian Mutiny ceased to be the country’s ruling class and became one of the many minority communities. It was not only a change of status in political and social standing but the new rulers of the country also distrusted the community under the mistaken belief of it being the perpetrator of the armed convulsions in 1857 against the growing might of the East India Company.
If you want to understand the background to the recent brouhaha over the admission policy of St Stephen’s College, here is the book for you. Contributors to this volume—all eminent legal experts, scholars, judges, administrators, and educationists—weigh in with their analyses of what plagues minority education in South Asia.
In 1996 William Pinch offered us a brand new insight into the peasant societies of Gangetic north India. In his hugely influential book, Peasants and Monks in British India, he showed us how religion in its non-denominational sense defined peasant action in colonial India. He drew our attention to the fact that sadhus (monks) and peasants have entangled histories.
This book belongs to an emergent genre of scholarship that has come to represent the latest, most prominent face of South Asian cultural studies. The main concern of the genre has been with the popular public cultures that have shaped the complex histories of modernity and nationalism in 19th and 20th century India,