Indian Muslim Minorities and the 1857 Rebellion: Religion, Rebels and Jihad (Under contract)
This book project addresses deeply held understandings of Muslims that rest, in part, on rhetorical uses of jihad. I start, however, not in recent history, but at an oft-examined historical moment in South Asia: the Great Rebellion of 1857. While many have investigated the historical, political, and regional effects of the rebellion, few have documented the ways in which this event was both shaped by and, in turn, shaped the definition of religions as well as religious subjects. In this book, I examine the rhetorics of subjecthood in British India with reference to religion—and especially Islam—before and after the 1857 Rebellion, and suggest that nascent conversations about Muslim subjecthood continue to influence contemporary rhetoric about Islam and Muslims. I explore the ways in which a changing political reality in India altered views about religious subjects and, especially, their loyalties. At its core, this book investigates how Muslims and non-Muslims portray Muslims as both religious actors and subjects, and how Islam is imagined to contour these identities. I argue that processes of minoritization and racialization of Islam and Muslims–processes that codified understandings of Muslims’ (in)ability to be loyal subjects–emerge in the wake of the Great Rebellion.
I was part of a brief conversation, as part of Marginalia Review of Books’ “New Directions in the Study of Religion” radio, about this project. Listen here.