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Contemporary Modernist Shi'i Reform in India: Notes from Mumbai and Kargil

Thursday 19 April 2018
Free to visit, drinks after
WHAT's NEW?! Spring Lecture Series
Cleveringaplaats 1
2311 BD Leiden
Kohja Gali, Mumbai

Discourse and debate

Echoing other parts of the Shi‘a world, Twelver Shi‘as in India have been significantly influenced by the Iranian Revolution (1979) even though the majority of them continue to emulate Ayatollah Sistani in Iraq. The impact of the Revolution can be clearly discerned in the discourses of modernist reformist movements that seek to keep alive Khomeini’s legacy. Aspects of this discourse such as a renewed emphasis on the use of ‘aql (reason), the rationalization and bureaucratization of religious education, and women’s ‘empowerment’ have instigated internal debates on ritual practice, religious authority and pedagogy, and ideas of marriage. This talk will lend insight into these discourses and debates drawing upon ethnographic research conducted in Kargil (Kashmir) and Mumbai. It will focus on the reception of this discourse among ordinary believers and outline the continuities with Islamic reform in colonial India to offer a historicized and contextualized understanding of modernist Shi‘i reform in contemporary India.  

About Radhika Gupta

Radhika Gupta is a university lecturer at the Leiden Institute for Area Studies. She is a social anthropologist with a DPhil from Oxford University and has held post-doctoral fellowships at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity and the Centre for Modern Indian Studies at Goettingen University in Germany.

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