In February, I.B. Tauris released “Women and Violence in India: Gender, Oppression, and the Politics of Neoliberalism,” by Tamsin Bradley (University of Portsmouth). The publisher’s description follows:
India’s endemic gender-based violence has received increased international scrutiny and provoked waves of domestic protest and activism. In recent years, related studies on India and South Asia have proliferated but their analyses often fail to identify why violence flourishes. Unwilling to simply accept patriarchy as the answer, Tamsin Bradley presents new research examining how different groups in India conceptualise violence against women, revealing beliefs around religion, caste and gender that render aggression socially acceptable. She also analyses the role that neoliberalism, and its corollary consumerism, play in reducing women to commodity objects for barter or exchange. Unpacking varied conservative, liberal and neoliberal ideologies active in India today, Bradley argues that they can converge unexpectedly to normalise violence against women. Due to these complex and overlapping factors, rates of violence against women in India have actually increased despite decades of feminist campaigning.
This book will be crucial to those studying Indian gender politics and violence, but also presents new data and methodologies which have practical implications for researchers and policymakers worldwide.
In June, the University of California Press will release “Becoming Religious in a Secular Age,” by Mark Elmore (University of California, Davis). The publisher’s description follows:
Religion is commonly viewed as a timeless element of the human inheritance, but in the Western Himalayas the community of Himachal Pradesh discovered its religion only after India became an independent secular state. Based on extensive ethnographic and archival work, Becoming Religious in a Secular Age tells the story of this discovery and how it transformed a community’s relations to its past, to its members, and to those outside the community. And, as Mark Elmore demonstrates, Himachali religion offers a unique opportunity to reimagine relations between religion and secularity. Tracing the emergence of religion, Elmore shows that modern secularity is not so much the eradication of religion as the very condition for its development. Showing us that to become a modern, ethical subject is to become religious, this book creatively augments our understanding of both religion and modernity.
Next month, Oxford University Press will release “Europe, India, and the Limits of Secularism,” by Jakob De Roover (Ghent University). The publisher’s description follows:
For several decades now, commentators have sounded the alarm about the crisis of secularism. Saving the secular state from political religion, they suggest, is a question of survival for societies characterized by religious diversity. Yet it remains unclear what the crisis is all about. This book argues that its roots are internal to the liberal model of secularism and toleration. Rather than being neutral or non-religious, this is a secularized theological model with deep religious roots. The limits of liberal secularism go back to its emergence from the dynamics and tensions of the Protestant Reformation in Europe. From the very beginning, it went hand in hand with its own mode of intolerance: an anticlerical theology that rejected Catholicism and Judaism as evil forms of political religion. Later this framework produced the colonial descriptions of Hinduism (and its caste hierarchy) as a false and immoral religion. Thus, secularism was presented as the only route forward for India. Still, the secular state often harms local forms of living together and reinforces conflicts rather than resolving them. Todays advocacy of secularism is not the outcome of reasonable reflection on the problems of Indian society but a manifestation of colonial consciousness.
In November, Routledge will release “Gandhi and Tagore: Politics, Truth and Conscience” by Gangeya Mukherji (Mahamati Prannath Mahavidyalaya, India). The publisher’s description follows:
This book brings together the political thought of Gandhi and Tagore to examine the relationship between politics, truth and conscience. It explores truth and conscience as viable public virtues with regard to two exemplars of ethical politics, addressing in turn the concerns of an evolving modern Indian political community.
The comprehensive and textually argued discussion frames the subject of the validity of ethical politics in inhospitable contexts such as the fanatically despotic state and energised nationalism. The book studies in nuanced detail Tagore’s opposition to political violence in colonial Bengal, the scope of non-violence and satyagraha as recommended by Gandhi to Jews in Nazi Germany, his response to the complexity of protest against the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, and the differently constituted nationalism of Gandhi and Tagore. It presents their famous debate in a new light, embedded within the dynamics of cultural identification, political praxis and the capacity of a community to imbibe the principles of ethical politics.
Comprehensive and perceptive in analysis, this book will be a valuable addition for scholars and researchers of political science with specialisation in Indian political thought, philosophy and history.
This month, Rutledge releases “Evangelising the Nation: Religion and the Formation of Naga Political Identity” by John Thomas (Indian Institute of Technology). The publisher’s description follows:
Northeast India has witnessed several nationality movements during the 20th century. The oldest and one of the most formidable has been that of the Nagas — inhabiting the hill tracts between the Brahmaputra river in India and the Chindwin river in Burma (now Myanmar). Rallying behind the slogan, ‘Nagaland for Christ’, this movement has been the site of an ambiguous relation between a particular understanding of Christianity and nation-making.
This book, based on meticulous archival research, traces the making of this relation and offers fresh perspectives on the workings of religion in the formation of political and cultural identities among the Nagas. It tracks the transmutations of Protestantism from the United States to the hill tracts of Northeast India, and its impact on the form and content of the nation that was imagined and longed for by the Nagas. The volume also examines the role of missionaries, local church leaders, and colonial and post-colonial states in facilitating this process.
In March, Yale University Press will release “The Paradox of Liberation: Secular Revolutions and Religious Counterrevolutions” by Michael Walzer (Emeritus Professor at the Institute for Advanced Study). The publisher’s description follows:
Many of the successful campaigns for national liberation in the years following World War II were initially based on democratic and secular ideals. Once established, however, the newly independent nations had to deal with entirely unexpected religious fierceness. Michael Walzer, one of America’s foremost political thinkers, examines this perplexing trend by studying India, Israel, and Algeria, three nations whose founding principles and institutions have been sharply attacked by three completely different groups of religious revivalists: Hindu militants, ultra-Orthodox Jews and messianic Zionists, and Islamic radicals.
In his provocative, well-reasoned discussion, Walzer asks why these secular democratic movements have failed to sustain their hegemony: Why have they been unable to reproduce their political culture beyond one or two generations? In a postscript, he compares the difficulties of contemporary secularism to the successful establishment of secular politics in the early American republic—thereby making an argument for American exceptionalism but gravely noting that we may be less exceptional today.