Anand V. Taneja, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies Islamic Traditions of South Asia, Vanderbilt University, delivers Islamic Saints and Hindu Daughters: Kinship, Ethical Self-Fashioning, and Inter-religious Relations at Firoz Shah Kotla Dargah, Delhi.
Professor Taneja is a historically informed anthropologist working on religion and popular culture in urban South Asia. His work is characterized by two complementary foci: 1) How pre-colonial Islamic ethics and political theologies continue to inform shared religious practices, cultural forms (particularly Bombay cinema), and modes of relating to self and Other in contemporary South Asia. 2) How the textures of everyday life, including interactions with the state, altered experiences of temporality, and shifting ecologies, profoundly influence popular theology. His book-project, Time, Islam, and Enchantment in the Medieval Ruins of Delhi, focuses on the ritual practices, dream-lives and modes of healing and sociality shared by Hindu and Muslim communities in contemporary Delhi’s medieval ruins, where Islamic spirits known as jinn are venerated as saints. He explores how these theologically novel saint-shrines emerge in a complex landscape of erasures and altered temporalities inaugurated by the Partition of India, and the massive ecological shifts and legal enchantments inaugurated by the post-colonial State, but also represent a continuing dialogue with the subaltern memory of Sufi ethics shared across conventional religious divides.