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Tentative Topic: MARGINALITY AND EMERGENCE OF NEW MUSLIM POLTICS

AFTER 1990s

Research context
The broad context of the proposed study is the emergence of new citizenship politics
among marginalized Muslim community in India along the line of caste, gender and ecology
especially after 1990s.The abstract understanding of democracy, pluralism identity and
community have contested by different identity movements after 1990s.1990s marks the one of
the changing moment in Indian History, politics and social life. The Nehruvian idea of modern,
secular nation with a self reliant economy was challenged from different corners. Caste, religion,
Gender, community and region have come to play decisive role in social and political lives of
India. (Nigam and Nivedita Menon, 2007) The implementation of Mandal, initiation of structural
adjustment programs, rapid growth of Hindu right wing and Ram Janbhumi

movement,

emergence of new middle class among different communities and media revolution have
tremendous impact on politics and society. These processes have also enabled new spaces for
political assertion for marginalized and socially excluded groups (Kothari 1997).The new social
movements, especially organized around caste and religion, which have seriously interrogated
the elite driven project of secular nationalist democracy. One of their primary targets of critique
has been the vision of secularism (unity in diversity) which by default privileges the
majoritarian elite culture when it is translated into actual practice (Upadhyay 1992). Moreover,
these movements enter the democratic theatre through a narrative of social or cultural exclusion
and justice. Indeed, what we have witnessed is a secularization or politicization of these

identities; no longer is caste only about hierarchy or religion only about the sacred but they
are being increasingly articulated around discourses of power (Kothari 1997). Moreover, to be
only fair, caste and religion were in a way always imbricates with power. These changes also
reflected in Muslim Politics too. Various movements have emerged by questioning the
Nationalist imagination and try to redraw the democratic atmosphere of the country and within
community. They themselves began to interrogate the premises on which they have built the
notions on Community, faith and citizenship. In other hands they have resisted the attempt by
hegemonic nationalist attempt to include them in their categories by raising their own specific
regional, social and cultural histories. These specific political conditions created different kind of
social movement within marginalized communities and given new dimensions to the study of
marginality too.

Review of literature
The discourse on Muslim identity and Muslim political subjective formations largely limited
to the discourse of either Muslim nationalism, or Nationalist Muslim debates and secular
communal binaries. Both of these debates are taking Muslim as a reactionary political agents
rather than active agents in politics. By the active agent I mean those who enrich our idea about
polity by their own inner resources and with their distinct ideas.
The mainstream academic discourses on Muslim Identity formation in India have many
limitations. Many of these articulations have never addressed the complexities involved in the
formation of Muslim Political identity in post colonial India. More over as Hilal Ahammed
pointed out many of such studies simply read post colonial Muslim politics as mere reflections of
colonial Muslim politics. Most of these studies either taken the Nationalism and Colonial

modernity have reference point to think over Muslim subjective formation . And different
regional, social, economical formations of Islam in India simply neglected and reduced in to a
North Indian Muslim imaginary.
Muslim societies of south India not only neglected in all these deliberations but many
consider Muslim communities in South India are unimportant for the grand narrative of Islam in
south Asia. While the impact of Islam and Muslims on the region is often considered
insignificant, Muslim societies in south India exhibit historical, economic, religious, and
linguistic diversity far beyond that encountered in regions associated more centrally with Islam
in South Asia such as the Punjab and the Gangetic Plains or Bengal. From the colonial period
onwards, administrators, historians, and anthropologists have tried to come to terms with this
complexity by reducing south Indian Muslims to a set of bounded and demarcated communities
supposedly sharing common language, origins, economic pursuits, and religious particularities.
But this representation of Muslim subjectivities in South India also failed to understand Muslim
diversity in the region as a dynamic and complex interplay of diverse processes.
Most influential narratives about the political change among Muslims and their
Subjective formation are revolving around different paradigms. First Paradigm argues that the
nature of politics and political identity of Muslims in India heavily dictated by the course of
colonial polices and due to the colonial interventions. Francis Robinson, Peter Hardy and most
recent works of Ayesha Jalal are best example for this approach. Second group of scholars like
Paul Brass argues that though the Muslim political mobilizations largely depend upon the
internal dynamics of Muslim society, it was manipulated and determined by the elites interest
with in community.

Third paradigm argues that muslim identity in India during colonial period evolved not so
much in terms of colonial policy or elites appropriation of religious values but by the tendency
to preserve their minority identity from the onslaught of majoritarian rule. Notable works by
Rafeeque Zakaria and Khalid Ibnu sayyid are examples of this paradigm of writings. Fourth
paradigm place Muslim politics in larger context of social assimilation processes in larger Indian
Society and argue that Muslim politics in India largely is the outcome of Islamisation process of
Muslim in India in response to sanskritization In Hindu society.
The sociologist like Imtiaz Ahammed argues that increasing Hindu communalism In
India created a sense of fear among the Muslims and Islamisation became a form of political and
social expression of Muslim grievances .As a result he argues that two forms of political
response were emerged from Muslim communities. One by acting as pressure group by
consolidating themselves as a community and Second, supporting particular secular political
party as a tactic. He rejects these two approaches and proposes a third approach by creating
solidarity among different strata of society cutting across the religious lines.
Fifth paradigm uses Marxist approaches two understand the Muslim political subject formations.
This analysis recognize the fact that majority of Muslims in India are economically back ward
and belong to the lower classes of Indian society. But they also argue that Muslim politics largely
driven by elite interest and that is not equated with large mass of Muslims in India. And they also
stress that this elite driven Muslim politics and deprived condition of larger Muslim mass cannot
be understood without larger development of bourgeois democracy in post colonial India .The
activist like Asghar Ali engineer argue that Muslim elite mobilize Muslim mass by propagating
pro upper class perspective of Islam. In opposition he advocates a libratory aspect of Islam which
stands with poor and women in the Muslim community. According to Hilal Ahmed there are two

kinds of conceptual problem with this class analysis. Primarily it assumes ideological difference
between different Muslim leaders and organisations that is not at all important. So the
complexity of Muslim politics is not analysed. The second problem as per the writings of Moin
Shakir that the difference between organic and traditional intellectuals are absent among Muslim
intellectuals. This essentialist understanding of muslim leaders as traditional values is
problematic

Contrary to these secular heterogeneity paradigms there is vast majority of literature that
stress on Muslim homogeneity and legal constitutionalist explanation of Muslim politics. They
articulate the some collective common interest of Muslim community and argue that which are
guaranteed by constitution of India as a recognized religious minority thus there should be a
Muslim politics based on minority rights .By countering this argument Muslim Secular
modernist like Musheerul hasan argue that minorityism of Muslim elite is the continuation of
communal politics of Muslim league .and then he advocate a new kind muslin, liberal, secular
intelligentsia who were strong belief in Nehruvian model of secular democracy and mobilized
on moral and non political considerations .
In broader perspective we can put above mentioned paradigms and further debates on
Muslim political subjectivities as two. Culturalist approach and political economy approach. But
Boath are failed to understand the complexities of Muslim political subjective formation. While
culturalist approach often tends to be an ahistorical attempt, political economical approach often
tend to neglect cultural processes and focusing their analysis specifically on macro processes.
This emphasis on macro processes lead to oversight of the everyday life which is detrimental in

any sort of subjective formation. To overcome this limits I will draw on critical comparative
historical and anthropological perspectives on Muslim subjective formation in specific Kerala
regional context in order to elucidate the terms of a historicizing approach to post colonial
Muslim political subject.
And I will also largely benefit from understanding recent post structuralist understanding
of difference and its political value in understanding the subject formation. .Difference is usually
used to mark/demarcate minoritarian communities. Or in other words, difference is often seen as
a question of not-being-mature, of not-having-come-of-age, of living-in-another-time. The
central question appears to be that of democracy and its multifarious responses to questions of
difference. A good number of scholars still continue to identify incomplete modernization as the
problem and maintain that allowing modernity to run its full course would be the best solution.
This would be, by and large, the liberal-Marxist response. Some others (Javeed Alam, for
example) perceived contradictions within this project and wanted to recover other traditions
within it so as to balance out inequalities within the umbrella of capitalism. Another group of
scholars (like Ashis Nandy) seemed to view western modernity as an intrusion and preferred to
concentrate on local practices so as to re-construct an Indian modern. Still another group (say,
the Subaltern Studies) wanted to read the Indian modern as, not a mere, albeit imperfect,
repetition of an original European form or as an imposition, but as one of the many different
versions of the modern. They focused on the historic specificities of colonial modernity and
proposed a closer reading of institutions and processes of individuation, using postmodern
strategies and post-national understandings.
Another limitation of this paradigms are , these paradigms is not accounting the
possibility of Muslim articulation going beyond the premises set up by majoritarian nationalism

and Oriantalist understanding. Moreover these accounts never take account the engagement of
Muslim communities with other political communities of that time. The above mentioned
narratives pre suppose a Hindu identity and responses of constructed Muslim identity towards it.
Why they are not seeking the possibilities of Muslim engagement with other political
communities..?
It precisely shows the limitation of social science discourses that largely been disciplined by the
hegemonic forces of the time. Orientalism and methodological nationalism reduce the Muslim
subjectivities in to mere behavioral subjects rather than thinking subjects. This approach not
explores the distinctive nature of Muslim engagements with their own priorities and resources or
as Foucault pointed ou the Technologies of self.
In many ways, Talal Asads (1986) essay on the anthropology of Islam marked a major
turning-point. Rather than treating Islam as blueprint or script for society or even as culture, he
argued that one should think instead of Islam as a discursive tradition. A discursive tradition is
a formation that has produced historically contingent categorizations of doctrine and practice.
This contrasts with such categories as reformism and scripturalism, which many, including
anthropologists, have too often taken for granted as fixed, knowable forms.
Drawing on the later works of Michel Foucault and on Talal Asad (1993; 2003), some
anthropologists, including CharlesHirschkind (2006) and SabaMahmood (2005), have analysed
modes of ethical self-fashioning among Muslims in so-called piety movements. By focusing on
Muslim individuals and activists, these authors directly challenge the state-centric approaches
that appeal to political scientists. In her work on women in the Egyptian piety movement,
Mahmood has advanced a very compelling critique of Western liberal notions of agency, notions
which prevent analysts from taking seriously those Muslim women whom we might gloss as

Islamists who do not share the libratory agendas of Western observers. Mahmoods critique also
helps to dispel anthropologists incomprehension of Muslim participation in Islamist movements
and move analysis away from unhelpful deterministic binaries of resistance and subordination.
Like Hirschkind, she provides analytical and methodological tools for studying Islamists and the
so-called piety minded.
Studies of ethical self-fashioning illustrate the utility of focusing on individual
experiences and the importance of fine-tuned ethnography, which helps considerably to deexoticize the Muslim Other Arguably, this is anthropology at its best. However, the focus on
individual self-fashioning also has serious drawbacks. With attention on ethical self-fashioning,
politics, especially in Mahmoods work, gets reduced to micro politics.
To avoid this drawback I will draw from recent writings of Dale F. Eickelman James
Piscatori(2003) and Armando Salvatore(2004) on Muslim poltics and public Islam. They analyze
the Muslim subjective formation along with larger social, political and economical changes.
Writing at the intersection of anthropology and political science, Dale Eickelman and James
Piscatori (1996) have analyzed what they called Muslim politics, in a broad synthesis of
developments in various settings. They have advanced the argument that, in recent years,
Muslims throughout the world have come to objectify their religion. In this process of
objectification, which echoes the shift from religiousness to religious-mindedness that Geertz
had outlined, Muslims have developed heightened self-consciousness of Islam as a religious
system. Eickelman and Piscatori argue that with mass education, increased literacy, and the
spread of new media technologies ( Anderson 1991; Gellner 1983), there has been an increased
fragmentation of authority in Muslim societies. As a result, a greater diversity of people deigns to

speak about what Islam is. The traditional interpreters of Islam Muslim scholars or ulama
have lost their monopoly and now compete with other Muslims (see also Zaman 2002).
This shift away from an assumed dichotomy between ulama and the so-called popular
Islam of ordinary Muslims opened new possibilities for understanding Islam and Muslim
societies. Focusing on the links between education, literacy, and media and changes in religious
authority, Eickelman and Piscatoris analytical turn placed contemporary Muslim politics within
epistemological shifts and social processes reflexivity, increased rationalization, and
democratic participation, for instance ordinarily associated in mainstream social theory with
modernity.

Statement of the Problem

This post national, post secular and post democratic age reconfigured the Muslim politics
too. As many pointed out this changes given possibility to pan Indian Muslim politics based on
development deficiencies of community. The new Muslim politics began to debate questions of
caste, gender, ecology and nation along with their community question. It has led to different
trends and internal transformation with in community. New Muslim political articulations
challenged the age old notion of community, notion of minority and idea of vertical solidarity
too. They have tried to develop horizontal solidarities with other marginalized groups there by
challenged main stream elite Muslim articulations. Though as there is wider pan Indian politics
emerge with in community, the different regional and social location of the community often
give different priorities to engage with in this context. Though state tries to include the Muslim
minority to the predefined nationalist notion of minority and majority, the engagements of

different movements destabilize this notion and build they own articulation based on their
regional, caste, class and gender positions. The study will reveal the impact of region and its
specific socio political historys importance and vitality to determine the new politics too. This
study will carried out by comparing three distinct social movement that have appeared in
Muslim Political sphere after 1990s.1) Pasmanda movement, which is a social movement of
lower caste Muslim in North India 2) solidarity youth movement, Muslim youth movement in
Kerala they have been actively engaging in different peoples struggles across Kerala.3) Bharatiya
Muslim Mahila Andolan mass organization of muslim women from across the country to become
an alternative progressive voice of the community to raise their socio-political and economic
concerns based in Mumbai. And this project also looks how these movements would also
navigate between the various imaginations of social action and transformation available to us,
especially in the context of social movements, and reflect on the limitations and possibilities of
the question of translation itself. The study will take theoretical in puts from post secular
debates (Hebermas, 2004 and Talal Asad 2003) and radical plural democracy (Laclau and Mouffe
1985; Laclau 1990; Mouffe 2005).

Research Questions
What are the regional, social and cultural specificities of these movements..?
How these differences are effecting their articulations on identity, community, faith and
citizenship?

Research Methodology

The proposed study aims to examine the regional socio cultural emergence of specific
articulations emerged after 1990s in response to the modern liberal secular mode of inclusion to
the nationalist frame, among Muslim community in India. For this purpose the study will study
three distinct movements and their engagements with these developments by using comparative
methods in social movements research. The qualitative study will be based on case study based
on primary and secondary materials and field visit. The study will follow intersectional analysis
to map the marginality and formation of new kind of politics.

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