Jinnealogy

Time, Islam, and Ecological Thought in the Medieval Ruins of Delhi

Reddit icon
e-mail icon
Twitter icon
Facebook icon
Google icon
LinkedIn icon
Anand Vivek Taneja
South Asia in Motion
  • Palo Alto, CA: 
    Stanford University Press
    , November
     2017.
     336 pages.
     $29.95.
     Paperback.
    ISBN
    9781503603936.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.
Review coming soon!

Review by Jaclyn Michael forthcoming.

Description

In the ruins of a medieval palace in Delhi, a unique phenomenon occurs: Indians of all castes and creeds meet to socialize and ask the spirits for help. The spirits they entreat are Islamic jinns, and they write out requests as if petitioning the state. At a time when a Hindu right wing government in India is committed to normalizing a view of the past that paints Muslims as oppressors, Anand Vivek Taneja's Jinnealogy provides a fresh vision of religion, identity, and sacrality that runs counter to state-sanctioned history.

The ruin, Firoz Shah Kotla, is an unusually democratic religious space, characterized by freewheeling theological conversations, DIY rituals, and the sanctification of animals. Taneja observes the visitors, who come mainly from the Muslim and Dalit neighborhoods of Delhi, and uses their conversations and letters to the jinns as an archive of voices so often silenced. He finds that their veneration of the jinns recalls pre-modern religious traditions in which spiritual experience was inextricably tied to ecological surroundings. In this enchanted space, Taneja encounters a form of popular Islam that is not a relic of bygone days, but a vibrant form of resistance to state repression and post-colonial visions of India.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Anand Vivek Taneja is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies and Anthropology at Vanderbilt University.

Keywords: 

Add New Comment

Reading Religion welcomes comments from AAR members, and you may leave a comment below by logging in with your AAR Member ID and password. Please read our policy on commenting.

Log in to post comments