Rituals, Narratives and Sacred Spaces in Early Modern India
Farhat Hasan
MAKING SPACE: SUFIS AND SETTLERS IN EARLY MODERN INDIA by Nile Green Oxford University Press, 2013, 339 pp., 795
February 2013, volume 37, No 2-3

Nile Green is an unusually gifted historian. He has been engaged, almost single-handedly, in a quiet revisionism in the social history of early modern India. His work has served to introduce fresh perspectives to our understanding of early modern epistemology, bringing in dimensions of corporeality and embodiment to processes of knowledge formation. Moving between texts and spaces, his work unravels the mutually constitutive relations between them, with architectural spaces finding meanings in/through narratives, and vice-versa. All along, in his various writings, Green has demonstrated, with dexterity and astuteness, the embodied nature of knowledge formation, and its entangled and deep relations with identity formation and power relations.

In the work under review, Green explores the processes involved in the creation of sacred spaces in early modern India. Focussing on the ‘Muslim spaces’, in particular the shrines of the sufis, he argues that these spaces emerged historically in the context of a continuous movement of peoples across the Islamic landscapes, and served to provide to the settler communities in India a home away from home.

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