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Author: Peter Gottschalk
Foreword/Introduction: Wendy Doniger
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN/UPC (if available): 0195654390
A compelling examination of the ways in which people understand their positions in a ‘divided’ India. This innovative study reveals a much more complex reality, challenging assumptions with an examination of the multiple identities held by a group of villages in north India..
Most scholarship about South Asian religions and cultures relies heavily on ‘Hindu’ and ‘Muslim’ as descriptive and analytic categories. As a result, the subcontinent appears to be divisively torn between competing religious camps. Peter Gottschalk’s innovative study reveals a much more complex reality. ‘Beyond Hindu and Muslim’ challenges these assumptions with an examination of the multiple identities held by the residents of a group of villages in north India. Instead of focusing on one religious community to the exclusion of the other or concentrating only on the conflict between the two, Peter Gottschalk examines the complex interactions that tie individuals not just to one group but to many. Residents identify with groups whose membership cuts across religious boundaries, including associations based on family, neighborhood, village, and nation, as well as gender, class, caste, and language.
To investigate these multiple identities, Gottschalk examines the stories through which residents of the village of Arampur and its environs describe the past. Following a vivid description of everyday life in Arampur, he demonstrates that residents situate themselves in space, time, and society when they relate certain sets of oral and written narratives. These stories describe such topics as the founding of Arampur by a Sufi the settlement of two neighboring villages by Hindu and Muslim brothers, the vengeance of a brahman’s ghost, and India’s struggle for independence. Avoiding the dichotomy between myth and history, the author demonstrates how these narratives express group memories of the past in the context of social relationships in the present. Stories from Arampur reveal that this ever-changing context involves a complex interaction of multiple identities that often transcends the simple divide of Hindu and Muslim.
A compelling examination of the ways in which people understand their positions in a ‘divided’ India, ‘Beyond Hindu and Muslim’ is essential reading for both scholars and general readers.
Foreword by Wendy Doniger
Introduction: One Territory, Multiple Maps
1. Multiple Identities, Singular Representations
2. The Village Nexus
3. Identity, Narrative, and Group Memory
4. Ocean of the Strands of Memory
5. Institutions of Integration and Disintegration
Conclusion: The Well of Meaning
Appendix: Indices of Bihar Government Textbooks for Social Studies and History