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Inhabiting or Interrogating Faith

Against the growing literature on Muslim piety movements, this paper analyses the practices of faith among a young generation of educated middle-class Muslim women in Mumbai in the context of a liberalising economy, which offers them greater employment opportunities and draws them out of the ghettos to work and interact with people of different social and religious backgrounds. The paper shows that these women question and reason with their faith, while the earlier generation abides by a quieter piety. The findings are grounded in Mumbai’s specific history in which the riots of 1992–93 were a defining moment for Muslims. While focusing on everyday religiosity, it also connects with a larger canvas by arguing that piety movements, though located in society, are not unattached from the ways in which states may constitute secularity or define religious freedoms.

Women and Religiosity

The everyday life of the congregations of slave castes involved the active support of women, right from the mid-19th century when Dalit communities began to accept Christianity. Prayers in the family and in congregations were occasions in which women were substantially involved, wherein hymns/songs became powerful articulations of the critique of caste slavery and prayer was used as an effective tool to resist instances of caste oppression. However, relatively blurred gender hierarchies in the pre-Christian phase among the slave castes were transformed by the conscious intervention of the missionaries in favour of the secure family structure with an assertive male head.

Inter-caste Marriage and Shakta Myths of Karnataka

The annual jatras or fairs conducted for certain female deities like Maramma and Dyamavva in Karnataka include the ritual of buffalo sacrifice. There is an accompanying myth that explains this sacrifice as symbolising the punishment meted out to a Dalit boy who had married an upper-caste girl by concealing his caste identity. Karnataka is one of the states where love marriages provoke honour killings, where the Sangh Parivar—as part of its “love jihad” campaign—attacks inter-religious couples, and beats up meat-eaters. Do these jatra practices, rooted in ancient memories, still serve the purpose of protecting the sanctity of caste?In what way have new developments changed the traditional meanings associated with the mythand the practice?

Women and Customary Spiritual Authority

The Khonds of South India, categorised as a particularly vulnerable tribal group, uphold a unique religious institution called the pejjenis, where women are conferred the spiritual authority to perform critical religious and social ceremonies related to human and nature cycles, appeasement of the gods and spirits during calamities and conflict and conducting spiritual dialogue with the other worlds. This paper explores the spaces of egalitarianism among them and finds out what opportunities for gendered negotiations and authority for women within the sphere of the religions are nurtured within an overarching framework of patriarchy.

Sexuality in Iran

What can a study of transsexuality in Iran contribute to its broader global understanding? Some disaffiliation, if not actual animosity, is often assumed between science and religion, sometimes placed in relation to larger concepts such as “modernity” and “tradition.” But, developments in Iran over the past three decades reveal the coming together of science and religion; these have generated possibilities for living alternatively gendered and sexual lives. The implications of some of these developments are explored.

Muslim Women and the Challenge of Religion in Contemporary Mumbai

Two recent mobilisations of women in Mumbai expose the tension between Muslim patriarchies and women’s rights in contemporary Islam. The first case refers to a petition in the Bombay High Court filed by the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan that challenged the prohibition of women in the inner sanctum of the Haji Ali Dargah. In 2016, the Supreme Court ruled against the governing trust of Haji Ali Dargah and restored women’s right to enter the inner sanctum. The second mobilisation was spearheaded by Sahiyo, a group of five women who started a public conversation around the practice of khafz or female genital cutting among Dawoodi Bohras. Their efforts brought attention to the violent control of female sexual pleasure in the name of religion and tradition. This paper argues that women’s critical voices from within the community challenge conservatism and redefine gendered selfhood within the religious realm.

Introduction

Why a Review of Environment and Development? The Review of Environment and Development has been ­imagined to address social, political and economic ­issues ­related to environment and ecosystems, at all scales from local to global. In particular, it is intended to capture the dialectical...

Governance of Waste

Well-versed in the production of waste, corporate capital has not generally focused on capitalising on waste. The discards of consumption, previously approached broadly as mere waste, have recently found rebirth in an increasingly corporate waste market in India. Ranging from contracts for waste collection and incineration-plant installation to sales of recyclables, formal businesses are entering the business of revaluing waste, often to the detriment of India’s already existing informal waste sector that has long conducted its own waste-based businesses. This new, increasingly corporate, business of waste is intimately connected to a new waste governance regime in India. Concerns regarding two symbolically significant waste streams, municipal solid waste and electronic waste, illuminate waste beyond its “management,” and demonstrate its embeddedness in matters of consumerism, informal-sector livelihoods, and urban ecology.

Why Do Institutions Shy Away from Action?

Coastal zone management authorities—which were created for the implementation of Coastal Regulation Zone notifications to regulate the use of space for the entire coastline of India at the state level—are relinquishing their powers. Across coastal states, a particular diffidence is seen in taking cognisance of CRZ violations and addressing them. First, when does an institution refuse to use the powers assigned to it? Is it when the powers to enforce are not balanced by protection to them? Or is it when there is a lack of political will? Second, are the instances of inaction borne out of a fear of backlash or a sheer lack of leadership amongst the members to take bold decisions? The paper concludes with identifying a few of the factors that can make the institutions act.

The Industrial Project and Organised Labour

This paper looks at the responses of organised labour to the “development” project exemplified by the steel plant, the big dam and the power plant. More precisely, it analyses the presence (or not) of an ecological critique in trade union/labour responses to industrial projects. The paper explores theoretical connections between class-based politics and ecological questions. It delineates some of the specific processes and conditions which can facilitate the entry of ecological issues into the imaginations of a trade union, using the experiences of the Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha in central India in the process. It argues that “class consciousness” is hardly a deterrent for an engagement with ecology, if one adequately understands the definitions of “class,” labour and production. In India’s specific context, the coming together of the concerns and imaginations of the industrial worker and the Adivasi peasant/farmer can facilitate this conversation between “red” and “green” imaginations.

The Forest Rights Act

The Forest Rights Act represented a historic step forward for forest management in India, and it is often hailed as such. However, it did not emerge from struggles for the control over forests alone, but was a product of an ongoing intersection between political conflict, features of Indian capitalism, and the conceptions of “environment” and “development” in India’s political discourse. In that sense, it is not only an “environmental” legislation, but an economic and social one, and one that belongs to a particular political conjuncture, representing both its limitations, and more importantly, its liberatory possibilities. This paper looks at the FRA in this context and explores how it grew out of this kind of politics, being marked both by the constraints of this period, and by the spaces it created for genuinely new conceptions and processes of development.

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