Imagining Muslims in South Asia and the Diaspora
Secularism, Religion, Representations
Literary, cinematic and media representations of the disputed category of the ‘South Asian Muslim’ have undergone substantial change in the last few decades and particularly since the events of September 11, 2001. Here we find the first book-length critical analysis of these representations of Muslims from South Asia and its diaspora in literature, the media, culture and cinema.
Contributors contextualize these depictions against the burgeoning post-9/11 artistic interest in Islam, and also against cultural responses to earlier crises on the subcontinent such as Partition (1947), the 1971 Indo-Pakistan war and secession of Bangladesh, the 1992 Ayodhya riots , the 2002 Gujarat genocide and the Kashmir conflict. Offering a comparative approach, the book explores connections between artists’ generic experimentalism and their interpretations of life as Muslims in South Asia and its diaspora, exploring literary and popular fiction, memoir, poetry, news media, and film. The collection highlights the diversity of representations of Muslims and the range of approaches to questions of Muslim religious and cultural identity, as well as secular discourse. Essays by leading scholars in the field highlight the significant role that literature, film, and other cultural products such as music can play in opening up space for complex reflections on Muslim identities and cultures, and how such imaginative cultural forms can enable us to rethink secularism and religion.
Surveying a broad range of up-to-date writing and cultural production, this concise and pioneering critical analysis of representations of South Asian Muslims will be of interest to students and academics of a variety of subjects including Asian Studies, Literary Studies, Media Studies, Women’s Studies, Contemporary Politics, Migration History, Film studies, and Cultural Studies.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Contexts and Text Part I: Surveying the Field; Comparative Approaches 1. The Making of a Muslim 2. Representations of Young Muslims in Contemporary British South Asian Fiction. 3. Before and Beyond the Nation: South Asian and Maghrebi Muslim Women’s Fiction Part II: Syncretism, Muslim Cosmopolitanism, and Secularism 4. Restoring the Narration: South Asian English writing and Al-Andalus 5. Music, Secularism and South Asian Fiction: Muslim Culture and Minority Identities in Shashi Deshpande’s Small Remedies 6. ‘A Shrine of Words’: The Politics and Poetics of Space in Agha Shahid Ali’s The Country Without a Post Office 7. Hamlet in Paradise: The Politics of Procrastination in Mirza Waheed’s The Collaborator Part III: Currents within South Asian Islam 8. Liberalizing Islam through the Bildungsroman: Ed Husain’s The Islamist 9. Enchanted Realms, Sceptical Perspectives: Salman Rushdie’s Recent Fiction 10. Tahmima Anam’s The Good Muslim: Bangladeshi Islam, Secularism and the Tablighi Jamaat Part IV: Representations, Stereotypes, Islamophobia11. Saving Pakistan from Brown Men: Benazir Bhutto as Pakistan’s Last Best Hope for Democracy 12. Queer South Asian Muslims: The Ethnic Closet and its Secular Limits 13. After 9/11: Islamophobia in Kamila Shamsie’s Broken Verses and Burnt Shadows
Claire Chambers is Lecturer in Global Literature at the University of York, UK. She researches modern literature from South Asia, the Arab world and their diasporas. Claire is the author of British Muslim Fictions: Interviews with Contemporary Writers and the forthcoming Representations of Muslims in Britain.
Caroline Herbert is Senior Lecturer in Postcolonial Literatures at Leeds Metropolitan University, UK. Her research centres on contemporary South Asian Literature and film, with a specific interest in narratives of urban modernity, secularism, and economic liberalization in India. She is editor of Postcolonial Cities: South Asia, a special issue of Moving Worlds (2013).
"Overall, this is an incredibly rich source of material that challenges dominant Western discourse about Muslim identity as a homogeneous entity. It illustrates the contributing factors to this misrepresentation of Muslim identity and experiences within present and historical depictions of Muslim people and the Islamic faith and for highlighting core texts about Muslim culture and experiences within South Asia written by Muslim authors."
Danita Catherine Burke - Journal of International Relations Research - Issue 5 - December 2015
This book offers an interesting collection of essays focusing on the image and representations of Islam and Muslim identity and the complications surrounding both. […] In the process of interpreting Muslim identity, the stereotypes created by South Asian writers are challenged by some authors because in their view this means the misrepresentation of Muslim identity and Islam as ideology. This work emphasizes the responsible role of a creative writer as well as academics who can continue the dialogue and clarify the ambiguities surrounding the topic in focus. While some authors fairly believe that if literature or theory fails to deal with the complexities of issues, bridging discourses like art, fiction and film can address certain ambiguities.
Nukhbah Taj Langah, Forman Christian College, Lahore, Pakistan in Pacific Affairs
"Claire Chambers’ essay makes a fresh attempt at reading Tahmima Anam’s The Good Muslim which aims to destabilise the binaries between Islamism and secularism ‘good and bad Muslim’ (144)...this book attempts to enunciate a new discourse on Islam and, drawing upon gender,literary and cultural studies, the myriad ways in which identities can be both flexible and syncretic."
Debadrita Chakraborty- Wasafiri 2017