Urdu Poetry and Political Theologies
|Guest Lecture - Anand V. Taneja
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 23, 2019, 4:30 – 6PM EDT
Anand V. Taneja, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies,Vanderbilt University
“The (Critical) Edge of Tradition:
When we speak of religious traditions, we often speak of margins. The problem with the metaphor of the margin, of course, is that what is thought of as marginal is—as with marginal notes—seen as incidental/irrelevant to the main body of the text, or the “mainstream” of the tradition. Instead of margins, what if we thought of the edge(s) of tradition, a word which has completely different affective and critical valences, including “edginess”. To use edge instead of margin is to understand being on the edge, experimenting with the limits of tradition, as not outside of or irrelevant to the tradition, but as potentialities of critique and innovation internal to the tradition. I propose edge rather than margin to understand the role of Urdu poetry in contemporary Muslim discourse in Delhi.
Urdu poetry serves as the meta-language of Muslim discourse in Delhi—it is the medium through which Muslims of profoundly theological, moral, metaphysical, and other differences speak to and understand each other in both intellectual and affective senses. It is also the medium in which political theologies of secularity are being articulated and debated, for Muslim and non-Muslim audiences, at a time of the failure of state secularism in India.