ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Muslims and Others: Anecdotes, Fragments and Uncertainties of Evidence

Muslims and Others: Anecdotes, Fragments and Uncertainties of Evidence

Against the intensified communalisation of civil society and the emergence of new modes of racism in contemporary India, this essay juxtaposes different histories of the Other through critical insights into the construction and demonisation of the Indian Muslim, along with subaltern performers and indigenous people, among other minorities. Working through anecdotes and fragments, bits and pieces of history, and the backstage life of theatre, this disjunctive discourse on the Other attempts to trouble liberal assumptions of cultural identity by calling attention to the uncertainties of evidence by which ethnic identities are politicised in diverse ways. While critiquing the exclusionary mode of 'othering' minorities, the essay also calls attention to more internalised modes of disidentification and the double-edged benefits of political identity for the underprivileged and dispossessed, whose own assertions of the self invariably complicate official identitarian constructions.

Anecdote brings things closer to us in space, allows them to enter into our lives. Anecdote represents the extreme opposite of history – which demands an ‘empathy’ that renders everything abstract. Empathy amounts to the same thing as reading newspapers. The true method of making things present is: to imagine them in our space (and not to imagine ourselves in their space). Only anecdote can move us in this direction.

Walter Benjamin—The Arcades Project

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