Select Page

Anand Taneja


Weatherhead Fellow

Affiliation at time of award:
Assistant Professor
Department of Religious Studies
Vanderbilt University

Anand Taneja, SAR Weatherhead Fellow, 2022-2023

Anand Taneja
Photo courtesy of Anand Taneja

Indian Muslim Poetry, Ethics, and Politics in an Age of Hindu Nationalism

How is minority Muslim ethical life lived in an India ruled by a Hindu majoritarian government? Based on ethnographic engagement with diverse Muslim interlocutors between 2018 and 2020—and contrary to received wisdom of the causal link between oppression and Muslim violence—this book explores the vibrancy and creativity of Indian Muslim experiments with self-expression, inter-communal relationships, and political activism in Narendra Modi’s India. It finds that Urdu poetry is a unifying and authoritative mode of discourse which expresses political theologies of selfhood. Crucial to Muslim politics in India is not the idea of an Islamic state, but the idea of a Muslim self, and how this self is to live with radically different and sometimes hostile others. Urdu poetry both draws upon longstanding Indo-Islamic traditions of living with difference and also expresses the profound dynamism of the religious, cultural, and political life of young Muslims resulting from new networks enabled through social media.