The swift currents of postcolonial theory

Difference and the challenges of engaging with popular religion in South India

Kalpana Ram*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Postcolonial theory has only partially enabled an engagement with subaltern popular religion. The Indian version, preoccupied with the dialectic between colonialism and nationalism, does not necessarily require engagement either with subalterns or with their practices in order to produce a seemingly self-sufficient account of modernity. A different set of problems is located with other influential models, such as Spivak's critique of 'voice' as unmediated presence. Engaging with popular religious phenomena can provide alternatives to the epistemology underlying Spivak's critique. In 'possession' and 'mediumship', both valued in south Indian popular religion, we find a model of communication which is not restricted to speech, voice and hearing, where mediation across difference is a difficult but valuable potential to be cultivated over time.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)707-718
Number of pages12
JournalContinuum
Volume25
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2011

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