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Performative Politics and the Cultures of Hinduism

Performative Politics and the Cultures of Hinduism

Public Uses of Religion in Western India

By Raminder Kaur

A comprehensive study of public uses of religion in Western India.

Paperback, 328 Pages


May 2005

£21.99, $40.00

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  • About This Book
  • Reviews
  • Author Information
  • Series
  • Table of Contents

About This Book

'Performative Politics and the Cultures of Hinduism' focuses on one of the major festivals of western India, the Ganapati Utsava, dedicated to the elephant-headed god. Raminder Kaur uses this occasion as the central anthropological and historiographical site within which to examine the dynamic relationship between spectacle, religion and nationalist politics. In contemporary India, this kaleidoscopic event is of interest to various bodies, including political parties such as the Shiv Sena, the BJP and the Congress, media conglomerates which sponsor competitions associated with religious rituals and the police and regulating organizations of the state which strive to keep religious festivity 'clean' of criminality and excessive political manipulation.

At the level of community life and everyday bhakti (religious devotion), Kaur shows that the audiovisual aspects of the festival are today crucial to its enduring appeal among large sectors of urban India's populace. Deploying a single major cultural and religious event to study the variety and cultures of contemporary Hinduism and their complex histories, this book is an outstanding work that will interest every serious student of Indian politics, cultural history and anthropology.


'This work contains much of valuable interest particularly regarding the very recent patterns of the Ganapati utsava.' —Frank F. Conlon

Author Information

Raminder Kaur is a Lecturer at the University of Manchester. She completed her PhD at SOAS, University of London, in 1998. She is also co-editor of 'Travel Worlds: Journeys in Contemporary Cultural Politics' (Zed Books, 1999), and co-author of 'Liquid Notions: Critical Reflections on Diaspora and Hybridity' (Sage, forthcoming).


Anthem South Asian Studies

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations and Maps, Preface; 1. The Promise of Performative Politics: Mobilised Efficacy; Festive Moments;  The Public Field; A Multifaceted Festival; Slippery Performers; 2. 'Seething with Sedition': Recasting Tilak's Interventions; Martial Murti; Fire in the Belly of the Gods; A Festival in Ferment; A Whirlpool of Movements; 3. The Spectacle of Drama and the Drama of Spectacle: Creative Patriotism; A Long Train of Etceteras; Fractured Publics, Moving Scenes; Mandap Types; Spectacular Politics; 4. Ganesh Chaturthi: Festival as Praxis: 'An Antidote to Vague Despair'; Engaging with Mandap Tableaux; Synaesthesia, Pleasure-Principles; Society of Spectator; Vitality; The Immersion Procession; The 'Saffronisation' of Public Space; 5. Mandal, Media, and the Market: Gods and Goods; The Business of Religion; Marking the Event; Overviewing of the Three Rounds; Assessing the Competition; 6. Open Secrets: Contemporary Political Culture in Maharashtra; The Eye of the Tiger; Street Poetics; Sainik Spectacles; An Art of Stage-Craft or State-Craft?; Variant Versionings of the Nation; Spectacles and Spectators; 7. Nuclear Reactions: Bombs and the Nation; Gods, Bombs and the Social Imaginary; Explosive Scnes; The Destroyer of Worlds; 8. A Nation Magic Mirrors: National or Natural?; Envisaging the Nation; Heroic Figures; Iconic Events; Space and Territory; Gendered Tropes of the Nation, Perceptions of the Other; Future Horizons; Modern Totems and Metaphors; Homing In; 9. An Imperfect Osmosis; Glossary and Abbreviations; Bibliography; Index

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