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Post-Colonial Temporalities: Archival Amnesia and Apotropaic Mnemonics in the Medieval Ruins of Delhi


March 9
5:15 pm - 7:00 pm
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Encina Hall West, Room 219
taneja copy

Lecture by Anand Vivek Taneja (Vanderbilt University). Sponsored by the Department of Religious Studies and co-sponsored by the Center for South Asia and the Abbasi Program in Islamic Studies. Part of the lecture series “The Presence of the Past,” organized by Audrey Truschke for the Center for South Asia. Free and open to the public.

This lecture uses oral history accounts, popular Urdu theological literature, and files from the Record Room of the ASI to bring together two parallel tracks; the growing presence of the jinn in post-Partition Delhi and the institutionalized amnesia of the official archives concerning everything prior to Partition and Independence in 1947. I show how the jinn are increasingly present in the blank spaces of the map, where the plans of the bureaucracy, the verdicts of the judiciary and the illegibility of the post-Partition Indian state attempt vast erasures of the city’s Muslim landscapes, and how jinnealogy, the supersession of human chains of memory by the long lives of the jinn, challenges the magical amnesia of the state by allowing for other temporalities and modes of witnessing against the empty, homogenous time of the post-colonial bureaucratic present.

Anand Vivek Taneja is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies and Anthropology at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. His research and teaching interests include the anthropology of religion, historical and contemporary Islam and inter-faith relations in South Asia, everyday life and post-colonial urbanism, Urdu literature, and Bombay cinema. His peer-reviewed articles have been published in the Indian Economic and Social History Review,  HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory, and Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East. He is currently working on a book on time, Islam, and enchantment in the medieval ruins of Delhi.