Imagining Muslims in South Asia and the Diaspora
Secularism, Religion, Representations
Edited by Claire Chambers, Caroline Herbert
Routledge – 2015 – 256 pages
Literary, cinematic and media representations of the disputed category of the ‘South Asian Muslim’ have undergone substantial change in the last few decades and particularly since the events of September 11, 2001. Here we find the first book-length critical analysis of these representations of Muslims from South Asia and its diaspora in literature, the media, culture and cinema.
Contributors contextualize these depictions against the burgeoning post-9/11 artistic interest in Islam, and also against cultural responses to earlier crises on the subcontinent such as Partition (1947), the 1971 Indo-Pakistan war and secession of Bangladesh, the 1992 Ayodhya riots , the 2002 Gujarat genocide and the Kashmir conflict. Offering a comparative approach, the book explores connections between artists’ generic experimentalism and their interpretations of life as Muslims in South Asia and its diaspora, exploring literary and popular fiction, memoir, poetry, news media, and film. The collection highlights the diversity of representations of Muslims and the range of approaches to questions of Muslim religious and cultural identity, as well as secular discourse. Essays by leading scholars in the field highlight the significant role that literature, film, and other cultural products such as music can play in opening up space for complex reflections on Muslim identities and cultures, and how such imaginative cultural forms can enable us to rethink secularism and religion.
Surveying a broad range of up-to-date writing and cultural production, this concise and pioneering critical analysis of representations of South Asian Muslims will be of interest to students and academics of a variety of subjects including Asian Studies, Literary Studies, Media Studies, Women’s Studies, Contemporary Politics, Migration History, Film studies, and Cultural Studies.
Introduction: Contexts and Text, Claire Chambers and Caroline Herbert Part I: Surveying the Field; Comparative Approaches 1. The Making of a Muslim, Tabish Khair 2. Representations of Young Muslims in Contemporary British South Asian Fiction., Anshuman A Mondal 3. Before and Beyond the Nation: South Asian and Maghrebi Muslim Women’s Fiction, Lindsey Moore Part II: Syncretism, Muslim Cosmopolitanism, and Secularism 4. Restoring the Narration: South Asian English writing and Al-Andalus, Muneeza Shamsie 5. Music, Secularism and South Asian Fiction: Muslim Culture and Minority Identities in Shashi Deshpande’s Small Remedies, Caroline Herbert 6. ‘A Shrine of Words’: The Politics and Poetics of Space in Agha Shahid Ali’s The Country Without a Post Office, Rachel Farebrother 7. Hamlet in Paradise: The Politics of Procrastination in Mirza Waheed’s The Collaborator, Peter Morey Part III: Currents within South Asian Islam8. Liberalizing Islam through the Bildungsroman: Ed Husain’s The Islamist, E. Rashid 9. Enchanted Realms, Sceptical Perspectives: Salman Rushdie’s Recent Fiction, Madeline Clements 10. Tahmima Anam’s The Good Muslim: Bangladeshi Islam, Secularism and the Tablighi Jamaat, Claire Chambers Part IV: Representations, Stereotypes, Islamophobia11. Saving Pakistan from Brown Men: Benazir Bhutto as Pakistan’s Last Best Hope for Democracy, Cara Cilano 12. Queer South Asian Muslims: The Ethnic Closet and its Secular Limits, Shamira A. Meghani 13. After 9/11: Islamophobia in Kamila Shamsie’s Broken Verses and Burnt Shadows, Aroosa Kanwal
Claire Chambers is Lecturer in Global Literature at the University of York, UK. She researches modern literature from South Asia, the Arab world and their diasporas. Claire is the author of British Muslim Fictions: Interviews with Contemporary Writers and the forthcoming Representations of Muslims in Britain.
Caroline Herbert is Senior Lecturer in Postcolonial Literatures at Leeds Metropolitan University, UK. Her research centres on contemporary South Asian Literature and film, with a specific interest in narratives of urban modernity, secularism, and economic liberalization in India. She is editor of Postcolonial Cities: South Asia, a special issue of Moving Worlds (2013).