Religion as the Site of Non-State Politics: Islam, Caste, and the Limits of Secularism in India

January 11, 2022 | 10:00am - 11:00am

What determines the limits of the political in secular approaches towards minorities and their forms of life? Shaunna Rodrigues will examine how secularism relies on political borders and adopts an inert approach towards various concepts that shape ideas of worldmaking. Given this limit of secularism, this talk turns to Islamic and Anti-Caste worldmaking in South Asia to demonstrate how they develop overlaps in their critique of the abstract rationality of secular political conceptions that uphold borders. Arguing that both Islamic and Anti-caste thought emphasize ethical conduct as the foundation for politics emerging from non-secular moralities, this talk demonstrates how their reconstruction of religion as a universal site of non-state politics opens imaginative possibilities for social democracy.

Moderated by Shubhangni Gupta and Shantanu Nevrekar, Ph.D. Students in Anthropology and coordinators of the South Asia Working Group at Stanford University


Shaunna Rodrigues is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian and African Studies at Columbia University. She also holds an M.A. and M.Phil. in Political Science from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. She specializes in political theory with research interests in theories of empire and imperialism, religion and worldmaking, Islam and caste, and anticolonial constitutionalism. Shaunna is also a Core Preceptor with the Columbia Core Curriculum in Contemporary Civilization.


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