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Anand V. Taneja

Research and Teaching

I am a historically informed anthropologist working on religion and popular culture in urban South Asia. My work is characterized by two complementary foci: 1) How pre-colonial Islamic ethics and political theologies continue to inform shared religious practices, cultural forms (particularly Bombay cinema), and modes of relating to self and Other in contemporary South Asia. 2) How the textures of everyday life, including interactions with the state, altered experiences of temporality, and shifting ecologies, profoundly influence popular theology. My book-project, Time, Islam, and Enchantment in the Medieval Ruins of Delhi, focuses on the ritual practices, dream-lives and modes of healing and sociality shared by Hindu and Muslim communities in contemporary Delhi’s medieval ruins, where Islamic spirits known as jinn are venerated as saints. I explore how these theologically novel saint-shrines emerge in a complex landscape of erasures and altered temporalities inaugurated by the Partition of India, and the massive ecological shifts and legal enchantments inaugurated by the post-colonial State, but also represent a continuing dialogue with the subaltern memory of Sufi ethics shared across conventional religious divides.

 

Representative publications

“Saintly Animals: The Shifting Moral and Ecological Landscapes of North India,” Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 35(2): forthcoming (August 2015).

“A City Without Time,” The Indian Quarterly 3(2): January-March 2015.
http://indianquarterly.com/a-city-without-time/

"Jinnealogy: Everyday life and Islamic theology in post-Partition Delhi," HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory 3(3), December 2013: 139-65.
(url: http://www.haujournal.org/index.php/hau/article/view/278)

“Thursdays at Firoz Shah Kotla: Of Jinns and Justice in the Ruins of Delhi,” in Delhi’s Twentieth Century, edited by Ravi Sundaram. Delhi: Oxford University Press, under review.

“Saintly Visions: Other Histories and History’s Others in the Medieval Ruins of Delhi,” Indian Economic and Social History Review 49 (4), December 2012: 557-590.
(url: http://ier.sagepub.com/content/49/4/557.short)

“On the Ambivalence of Suddenly ‘Old’ Towards (Unexpectedly) ‘New’ Delhi: Reading Bashiruddin Ahmad’s Waqi’at-e Darulhukumat Dehli,The Book Review 36(1), January 2012: 8-10.
(url: http://www.thebookreviewindia.org/articles/archives-690/2012/january/1/on-the-ambivalence-of-the-suddenly-old-towards-unexpectedly-new-delhi.html)

“Muslimness in Hindi Cinema,” in Seminar 598, “Circuits of Cinema,” edited by Aarti Sethi. Seminar, June 2009.
(url: http://goo.gl/iS8NY)