Qudsiya Contractor on “Old Shanghai” and Hindu/Muslim Relations in Modern India

KFG Fellow Qudsiya Contractor‘s research explores how religion and religious identities impact the urban experience of the poor in Mumbai. Her project focuses on the Muslim poor in a Mumbai neighborhood and explores how socio-spatial segregation, a lack of basic amenities, economic deprivation, police surveillance and political marginalization play out in everyday life.

She has recently published two articles. One, entitled “Nostalgia for Shanghai’s Shikumen”, discusses efforts to demolish old housing, called Shikumen, and how nostalgia about these structures continues to be present in people’s minds. She writes that “a sentimental longing for the past lingers on in Shanghai”.

Her second article discusses “How Jaggi Vasudev has helped strengthen fears about Muslims”. In it, she and her co-author Suryakant Waghmore show Vasudev’s teachings are based in elite Hindu traditions and they illustrate how Muslims are constructed as new outcasts as a result. The authors show how “as a political category, Muslims invoke fear. They are suspected by many people of harbouring anti-national and anti-liberal sentiments.”

Both articles have much broader implications about memory and urban development, and religious coexistence and hierarchical power structures. They provide a fascianting opportunity to reflect on religion and urbanity in modern societies – enjoy reading!

Pralay Kanungo on the Indian Election

Our fellow, Pralay Kanungo, has recently published an article in the Wire on the Indian elections. He investigates the rise of the ‘NaMo’ cult and traces what may lay ahead for India after this momentous election. The article shows that there were two strands to the personality cult around the new and old Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi. By combinding a narrative of development with an aggressive nationalism the ‘cult’ was able to withstand any pressure and Modi and the BJP Party won a historic election vctory.

See here for the full article.   

Short Review of Hans G. Kippenberg: Regulierungen der Religionsfreiheit

Hans G. Kippenberg, Regulierungen der Religionsfreiheit: Von der Allgemeinen Erklärung der Menschenrechte zu den urteilen des Europäischen Gerichtshofs für Menschenrechte, Baden-Baden: Nomos, 2019, 190 pp.

Hans G. Kippenberg, former fellow of the Max Weber Centre, Erfurt, has written a book on legal regulations of freedom of religion from 1948 onwards. The book covers the period from the „Universal Declaration of Human Rights“ of 1948 to the „International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights“ of 1966/76. Written with an international perspective, the focus of the book shifts to European developments, the European Convention on Human Rights, the European Commission on Human Rights and the European Court in the second half of the book. Individual cases and legal developments from Italy to the United Kingdom, from Switzerland to Greece and Turkey are analyzed.

The historicization of the process is interesting for the history of religion in general and for the problems of religious beliefs, actions, and institutionalizations in urban contexts and urban religion. The book demonstrates the manifold strands and quick changes in the perspectives on and the contents of legal matters, but it also demonstrates how the trace of such texts and court cases produces lasting changes. The historicization of this process from the point of view of the history of religion is a big asset of the book.

 — Jörg Rüpke