Margins, Meanings, Modernity: Satnampanth, Hinduism, and Colonial Questions

Location: Online meeting
Speaker: Professor Saurabh Dube
Date: March 2, 2022
Time: 2:00pm – 3:00pm

This talk shall address some of the salient issues informing the project on “Rethinking Hinduism in Colonial India”. It shall do so through two overlapping steps. On the one hand, I shall seize upon a few critical concerns of my historical anthropology of the Satnamis of Chhatisgarh: a subaltern and heretical caste-sect that variously challenged, negotiated, displaced, and reproduced formations of meaning and power encoded in dominant Hinduism and colonial authority. On the other hand, I will bring into view aspects of my more recent forays into understandings of modernity, colonialism, and their subjects. Taken together, I seek to ask: How are we to understand heterogenous articulations of the margins and meanings of Hinduism? What is the place of authority and alterity in expressions of caste and sect, gender and office in these arenas? What presumption and privilege are reproduced in familiar projections of modern Hinduism, bearing which traces of liberal-progressivist subjects-settlements? Can the study of apparently marginal subjects engage the widest questions of power and meaning turning upon caste and religion, colonial cultures and modernity’s makeovers, including by carefully querying formidable anthropological assumption(s) and developmental historical premise(s)?

Saurabh Dube is Professor-Researcher, Distinguished Category, at El Colegio de México, and also holds the highest rank in the National System of researchers (SNI), Mexico since 2005. Apart from around 140 essays and book-chapters, his authored books include Untouchable Pasts (1998, 2001); Stitches on Time (2004); After Conversion (2010); Subjects of Modernity (2017, 2018, 2019); as well as a quintet in historical anthropology in the Spanish language published by El Colegio de México (2001-2018). A 600 page anthology/omnibus of Dube’s Spanish writings of the last two decades was published recently. Among his more than fifteen edited volumes are Postcolonial Passages (2004, 2006); Historical Anthropology (2007, 2008); Enchantments of Modernity (2009, 2010); Crime through Time (2013); Unbecoming Modern (2006, 2019); and Dipesh Chakrabarty and the Global South (2019, 2021). Dube is the founder-editor of the international innovative series, “Routledge Focus on Modern Subjects.” He has been elected Fellow of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, New York; the Institute of Advanced Study, Warwick; the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla; the Stellenbosch Institute of Advanced Study, South Africa; the Max Weber Kolleg, Germany; and the Institute of Human Sciences, Vienna. Dube has also held visiting professorships, several times, at institutions such Cornell University, the Johns Hopkins University, University of Iowa, and Goa University (where he occupied the DD Kosambi Visiting Chair in Interdisciplinary Studies).