Shahid Amin: Community Formation & the Recognition of Difference

Rajni Kothari Annual Lectures are instituted in honour of the CSDS Founder Director Professor Rajni Kothari. Earlier speakers in the series include Professors Sudipta Kaviraj, Gananath Obeysekere, Rounaq Jahan, Abdellah Hammoudi, Charles Taylor and Arif Dirlik.

Difference is seen today not as impeding the development of the democratic process, but rather as a key characteristic of the Indian polity. Problems generally arise when we try to narrate the conflicts of the past as anything other than the life histories of segregated groupings. This is specially the case with the ‘fact’ and ‘memory’ of the Turkic conquest of Northern India, epitomized most notably in the figure of Mahmud of Ghazni. The lecture takes up the career of a ‘fictional’ nephew of the Sultan to illustrate the process of difference-based community formation (of devotes) across denominational divides over the past seven centuries.

Shahid Amin is currently Professor of History at the University of Delhi. Among his publications are: Event, Metaphor, Memory: Chauri Chaura, 1922-1992 and Writing Alternative Histories: A View from India. He is the editor of A Concise Encyclopedia of North Indian Peasant Life, the co-editor, with Gyan Pandey, of Nimnvargiya Itihas, Bhag Ek, Bhag Do and has also written the Hindustani dialogues of the feature film Karvan, directed by Pankaj Butalia.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013
CSDS Seminar Room