A number of Muslim organizations came together in 2012 at Azad Maidan in Mumbai, India to strongly protest what they saw as atrocities committed against Muslims in the neighboring country of Myanmar and the north-east Indian state of Assam. Amid much condemnation, the “Muslim leadership” called upon governments to stop this violence. The elite Indian news-media came in for much criticism for failing to hear these enraged “voices of the community.” This resulted in a section of the agitated crowd indulging in arson and violence, and some of the protesting youth were killed.
This dissertation is a study of Muslim minority identities as they emerge in contexts that involve disputations and crises in contemporary Mumbai. Drawing upon “assemblage theory,” and debates on the nature of group formation, it explains the actions of a range of organizations (an Urdu language newspaper, a socio-religious organization, and a political party), claiming to work for or represent “the authentic voice of the Muslim people.” Based on four years of ethnographic fieldwork in Mumbai, this dissertation examines the everyday processes through which notions of Muslim identity are articulated as a result of cooperation as well as antagonism within and between these organizations, and the larger social worlds of which they are a part. It offers fresh perspectives on the ways in which publicness intersects with ideas of minority groups in the context of majoritarian societies such as contemporary India.
Such organizations mobilize around socio-religious, publicity, educational, and gender issues pertaining mostly Muslims. They see themselves as articulating the fears, desires, and ambitions of a beleaguered Muslim minority community in India. By focusing on the interface between governmental and state agencies and community organizations this study offers a reconceptualization of Muslim minority identity. It revises the concept of minority group—often understood as an entity bounded off from other such spheres as the state, or the national majority community—as one marked by a hierarchy of competing voices that emerge from the always unfolding actions of diverse actors, whether Hindu or Muslim, citizens or state officials, or those speaking in the name of religion or secularism.
Table of Contents
TABLE OF CONTENTS .....1
1: EVERYDAY RELATIONS IN THE LIFE OF THE “QAUM” .....96
2: FILMS BANS AND THE STRUGGLE AROUND MUSLIM IDENTITY .....135
3: BLASPHEMOUS CARTOONS AND THE DEAFENING SILENCE OF CLERICS:
BEING A MUSLIM LEADER AND THE DENIAL OF PUBLICITY .....157
4: CLAMOR FOR A FILM BAN: ASSEMBLAGES AND THE EMERGENCE
OF MUSLIM MINORITY VOICES .....178
5: ALLIANCE FORMATION AND MANIPULATIVE STRATEGIES ON THE
CAMPAIGN TRAIL IN A MUMBAI ELECTION .....219
WORKS CITED .....252
About this Dissertation
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