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Critical thinking about political theology is new in the study of South Asia. Additionally, compared to what we know about life cycle rituals and festivals, the study of millenarianism in the Indian subcontinent has been marginal at best for scholars of religion and society.
This roundtable invites fresh perspectives on an underexplored theme that deserves our attention in a post-secular age of democratic populism. As in Western Europe or Melanesia, millenarian ideologies in South Asia push us to consider how prospects of spiritual renewal and redemption are tied to ways of rethinking sovereignty and state-society relations.
Millenarian thinking also urges us to reimagine the politics of time as the relationship between the past and the future is reconfigured radically in what Aristide Zolberg termed "moments of madness." Yet millenarianism is no mere flash in the pan: it can be institutionalized in everyday practices of statecraft as well as lay worship in preparation for a much-awaited future. The roundtable will probe into notions of the millennium across religious traditions and spatio-temporal divides in South Asia and what they share (and do not share) with their counterparts elsewhere.
Four scholars at varying career stages in the US and UK draw on their exciting research agendas to help us understand the vernacular politics of millenarianism from the Mughals to Modi.
- A. Azfar Moin (Religious Studies, University of Texas, Austin)
- Milinda Banerjee (History, University of St. Andrews)
- Edward Moonlittle (Anthropology, University of Cambridge)
- Irene Ann Promodh (Anthropology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor)
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