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New Book on Sufism in South Asia

Sep 23, 2016

Dr. Deepra Dandekar and Torsten Tschacher, Ph.D., both members of the Cluster “Asia and Europe”, recently published the book “Islam, Sufism and Everyday Politics of Belonging in South Asia”. The book was produced in the context of the research project “MC2 Sufism”.

In their publication, Deepra Dandekar and Torsten Tschacher look at the study of ideas, practices and institutions in South Asian Islam, commonly identified as ‘Sufism’, and how they relate to politics in South Asia. While the importance of Sufism for the lives of South Asian Muslims has been repeatedly asserted, the specific role played by Sufism in contestations over social and political belonging in South Asia has not yet been fully analysed.

Looking at examples from five countries in South Asia (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Afghanistan), the book begins with a detailed introduction to political concerns over ‘belonging’ in relation to questions concerning Sufism and Islam in South Asia. This is followed by sections on Producing and Identifying Sufism; Everyday and Public Forms of Belonging; Sufi Belonging, Local and National; and Intellectual History and Narratives of Belonging. Bringing together scholars from diverse disciplines, the book explores the connection of Islam, Sufism and the politics of belonging in South Asia. It is an important contribution to South Asian Studies, Islamic Studies and South Asian Religion.

The publication was produced at the Cluster “Asia and Europe in a Global Context” in the context of project MC2 “Sufism”, which explores Sufism under the impact of Islamic reform movements since the 18th century.

Max Stille, graduate student at the Cluster and member of MC2, contributed a chapter to the book. “Sufism in Bengali wa‘z mahfils” probes into the field of supererogatory Islamic sermon gatherings taking place in the late evenings in contemporary Bangladesh. It analyses sermons of different poles within the genre and provides a rich micro-example for discussing varieties of experience elicited by the sermons. Framing, satire, and parody show that the form of speech and the experiences prefigured by it do matter for the actors, and multi-layered narratological analysis shows ways to discern this experience beyond subjective impressions.

The volume is part of the book series "Routledge Advances in South Asian Studies, which features innovative and original research on the South Asian region as a whole or on specific countries. South Asia, with its burgeoning, ethnically diverse population, soaring economies, and nuclear weapons, is an increasingly important region in the global context.

Dr. Deepra Dandekar is an Associate Member of the Cluster “Asia and Europe in a Global Context” and works on Gender and Religion in Maharashtra.

Torsten Tschacher, Ph.D. is former Postdoctoral Researcher at the Cluster “Asia and Europe in a Global Context” and Junior-Professor of Muslim Culture and Society in South Asia at Freie Universität, Berlin.

Further information on the book is available here.


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