Beyond Hindu and Muslim: Multiple Indentity in Narratives from Village India

Beyond Hindu and Muslim: Multiple Indentity in Narratives from Village India

Beyond Hindu and Muslim: Multiple Indentity in Narratives from Village India

Beyond Hindu and Muslim: Multiple Indentity in Narratives from Village India

Synopsis

Questioning the conventional depiction of India as a nation divided between religious communities, Gottschalk shows that individuals living in India have multiple identities, some of which cut across religious boundaries. The stories narrated by villagers living in the northern state of Bihar depict everyday social interactions that transcend the simple divide of Hindu and Muslim.

Excerpt

This study of the construction of Hindu, Muslim, and other identities in India has important implications for our understanding of interreligious cooperation and interreligious violence. It will contribute, in general, to our understanding of the various cultural logics which inform societies in conflict and, in particular, to our understanding of the Hindu-Muslim conflict in India. Gottschalk's work is about concepts of time and memory; he is searching for a constructive sense of history in the face of the formidable de(con)struction wrought by the Orientalist and subaltern critique. His study of India is informed by his previous work on the historiography and theology of Jewish approaches to the Holocaust; in both cases, he has delved deep into the emotional and cognitive problems of understanding a traumatic past. His particular contribution to the debates of historians is his subtle understanding of narrative, particularly religious narrative, and he puts his theories to a practical and constructive test in India. He writes beautifully and brings a quasi-novelistic sensitivity to his evocation of the settings in which real people come into real conflict. This brilliant and passionately conceived book is readable, moving, and timely; it changed my mind, entirely, about the ways in which Hindus and Muslims regard one another in India, and about the ways in which the concerns that bind one human being to another may override the political and economic forces that drive them apart.

--Wendy Doniger . . .

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