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South Asian History and Culture 2010 - Vol. 1,1

South Asian History and Culture
South Asian History and Culture / Editorial Board: David Washbrook [u.a.]. - Vol. 1. - London [u.a.] : Routledge, 2010
ISSN 1947-2501 (electronic), 1947-2498 (paper)
URL: Taylor and Francis: South Asian History and Culture

Inhalt: Vol. 1,1 (January 2010)
William Mazzarella:
A torn performative dispensation: the affective politics of British Second World War propaganda in India and the problem of legitimation in an age of mass publics, S. 1-24
DOI: 10.1080/19472490903387183
Abstract: How does a government convince a mass of people who no longer accept its sovereignty to die for it? This was the seemingly insurmountable challenge facing the British colonial government in India by the time of the Second World War. Using primary archival materials, this article presents British Second World War propaganda strategies in India as symptoms of a 'torn performative dispensation' - a political crisis in which the twin projects of the incitement of mass affect and the articulation of a discourse of sovereignty can no longer be successfully reconciled. This article also explores the dynamic of 'interdependent conflict' that characterized the relation between British colonial and Indian nationalist publicity.

Michael Roberts:
Killing Rajiv Gandhi: Dhanu's sacrificial metamorphosis in death, S. 25-41
DOI: 10.1080/19472490903387191
Abstract: Set within the context of the Sri Lankan Tamils' liberation war dominated by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), this article examines the series of events that followed Pirapharan's (Prabhkaran) decision to eliminate Rajiv Gandhi in 1991 in order to pre-empt his election as Prime Minister. The details of the LTTE's intricate killing operation under operational commander Sivarsan set the scene for a focus on facets of the attire adopted by suicide bomber Dhanu. Saffron-green outfit, kanagambaram in hair and sandalwood-pellet garland may have been directed by pragmatic reasoning. But circumstantial contentions also point towards cosmic reasoning. Taken together with the kill team's preceding supplications to the god Ganapathi at a temple in Chennai, these indications suggest that Dhanu's explosive transformation into ash was geared towards a transvaluation of self in the cycle of rebirth. Information on Hindu practices taken from the researches of Mines, Fuller and Tanaka amplify the significance of the details deployed during this operation as supplements to plastic explosives, ball bearings and suicide vest.

Manisha Sethi:
Chastity and desire: representing women in Jainism, S. 42-59
DOI: 10.1080/19472490903387209
Abstract: This article explores the Jain construction of womanhood. It analyses how this construction is on the one hand different from Brahminical models, and how on the other it reiterates some of the more common paradigms of Brahmanism. While Brahminical texts have emphasized women's religiosity in their roles as householders, Jainism is distinguished by its recognition of women as independent spiritual agents with the capacity for renunciation and salvation. Not only do the earliest Jain monastic codebooks acknowledge the presence of women renouncers, popular tales about Jain women capable of extreme chastity and asceticism also establish them as the icons of Jain religiosity. However, the Jain imagery in this respect is not uniform, and there exist multiple discursive registers that at once enable and disempower women as autonomous religious beings. Existing alongside the positive portrayals of women's spirituality are deeply misogynist renderings of women as snares and temptresses. How then is the study of women in Jainism significant to our understanding of religion and womanhood in the South Asian context?

Utsa Ray:
Aestheticizing labour: an affective discourse of cooking in colonial Bengal, S. 60-70
DOI: 10.1080/19472490903387217
Abstract: This article examines how a gendered discourse of taste was formulated in colonial Bengal by the Bengali Hindu middle classes, which in its turn facilitated the self-fashioning of Bengali bhadralok. This discourse of taste was articulated specifically through the culture of food. The middle-class Bengali Hindus constituted a new rhetoric of cuisine that enabled them to distance themselves from their 'others', especially the lower classes. Often this distancing was done through aestheticizing women's cooking that assimilated gender with class. Undoubtedly, women were the signpost of 'tradition' in the middle-class discourse. However, the same discourse also assigned them the responsibility for producing a 'modern' Bengali cuisine.

Maya Ranganathan:
Experiencing terror online, S. 71-85
DOI: 10.1080/19472490903387241
Abstract: In the context of the systematic and ingenious use of Internet in the just-concluded civil war for a separate Tamil homeland in Sri Lanka, the article argues that, despite the potential of the virtual space to be free and fair, the articulation of Eelam online mirrored the situation on the ground in Sri Lanka. Much like in the 'real' world, a sense of fear and censorship prevailed in the virtual world with computer-mediated communication becoming a dark and dangerous alley that one must fear to tread. Although all parties involved in the ethnic conflict were responsible for the silencing of critics through coercion, this article, through an exploration of selective online engagements, highlights the efforts at silencing dissent by players professing pro-Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) views. The pro-LTTE players have been chosen for the study in view of the extensive ways in which the Internet has been employed in the construction and sustenance of an Eelam national identity among Sri Lankan Tamils worldwide.

Ronojoy Sen:
The Indian Supreme Court and the quest for a 'rational' Hinduism, S. 86-104
DOI: 10.1080/19472490903387258
Abstract: This article examines, first, how the courts have attempted to define religion with respect to the Constitution, and second, how the court in adjudicating cases related to Hinduism has drawn a distinction between the sacred and the secular. It shows how the Court's use of the 'essential practices' doctrine has served as a vehicle for legitimating a rationalized form of high Hinduism and delegitimating usages of popular Hinduism as superstition. This has resulted in the sanction for an extensive regulatory regime for Hindu religious institutions and substantial limits on the independence of religious denominations.

Jayasinhji Jhala:
Representing story: shaping memory in Western India, S. 105-124
DOI: 10.1080/19472490903387266
Abstract: This article comes from a womb nurtured by several nourishing streams of inquiry. It is premised on the anthropological concepts of enchantment and encaptivation as developed by Alfred Gell, as well as by the writings of Hocart on kingship and on the importance of the senses in making meaning by Paul Stoller. It builds on the concepts of ethnofiction developed by filmmaker Jean Rouch and of Goffman's ideas about the presentation of self in ethnographic encounter. It is supported by traditional historical writing on Western India by Western scholars (Bayley, Mcleod, Ramusack, Forbes, Wilberforce-Bell) and Indian historians (Nainsi, Shukla) and by local historical sources. This article aspires to present historical and anthropological information and insight in an alternate way, perhaps a new way. This article is emphatically illustrative; it presents complete tales to show emotion and sentiment rather than being traditionally analytical. This content positions the article to extend the Geertzian practice of thick and thin description along a tangent where description serves to reveal internal criteria of recognition of what is salient - for local society - in its making of memory and prophesy.

David Washbrook:
Intimations of modernity in South India, S. 125-148
DOI: 10.1080/19472490903387274
Abstract: Modernity in South India today expresses itself in many distinctive and paradoxical ways. In part, this may be explained by a colonial history that explicitly attempted to draw on tradition even while pursuing innovation. However, in greater part, it may derive from a pre-colonial past of multiculturalism, economic mobility and intense social competition. South Indian society in the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries possessed many features of an 'early modernity', which have guided its trajectories into the future at least as much as have latter-day encounters with 'the West'.

Review Essays
Book Reviews
Obituary: Carol Breckenridge (1942–2009): a tribute