This book offers fresh theoretical, methodological and empirical analyses of the relation between religion and the city in the South Asian context.
Uniting the historical with the contemporary by looking at the medieval and early modern links between religious faith and urban settlement, the book brings together a series of focused studies of the mixed and multiple practices and spatial negotiations of religion in the South Asian city. It looks at the various ways in which contemporary religious practice affects urban everyday life, commerce, craft, infrastructure, cultural forms, art, music and architecture. Chapters draw upon original empirical study and research to analyse the foundational, structural, material and cultural connections between religious practice and urban formations or flows. The book argues that Indian cities are not ‘postsecular’ in the sense that the term is currently used in the modern West, but that there has been, rather, a deep, even foundational link between religion and urbanism, producing different versions of urban modernity. Questions of caste, gender, community, intersectional entanglements, physical proximity, private or public ritual, processions and prayer, economic and political factors, material objects, and changes in the built environment, are all taken into consideration, and the book offers an interdisciplinary analysis of different historical periods, different cities, and different types of religious practice.
Filling a gap in the literature by discussing a diversity of settings and faiths, the book will be of interest to scholars on South Asian history, sociology, literary analysis, urban studies and cultural studies.
Table of Contents
1. The Making of a City: Religion and Society in the Chandimangal of Early Modern Bengal
2. Temple, Urban Landscape and the Production of Space: Srirangam in the Early Modern Tamil Region
3. Hazrat-i-Dehli: Chishti Sufism and the Making of the Cosmopolitan Character of the City of Delhi
4. The East India Company, English Protestants and the wider Christian community in seventeenth century Surat, Bombay and Madras
Haig Z. Smith
5. Reconfiguring a Lost Trace: The Buddhist ‘Revival Movement’ in late 19th century Calcutta and the Bengal Buddhist Association
6. From Faridpur to Calcutta: the journey of the Matua faith
7. On Residues and Reuse: A Festival and its Afterlife in an Indian Metropolis
8. The Leftover Untouch: Sensing Caste in the Modern Urban Lives of a Devotional Instrument
9. Mourning in the City: Imambaras as Sites of Urban Contestation in Kolkata
10. Performing Processions: Claiming the City
11. Memory and Space: Street Shrines and Popular Devotion in Amritsar
12. Convivial Spaces: The Art of Being Together and Separate in the Multi-Religious City of Ahmedabad
13. Religion, Heritage and Identity: The Contested Heritage-scape of Varanasi
Supriya Chaudhuri is Professor Emerita in the Department of English at Jadavpur University, India.