Muslim Belonging in Hindu South Asia: Ambivalence and Difference in Nepali Public Discourses

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Department 1

Religious Studies


The role of Islam and Muslims in secular Hindu South Asia is central to debates about who belongs and what constitutes national identity. This article examines the symbolic and abstract dimensions of the representations of Muslim minority belonging in the secular but Hindu majority state of Nepal. Through analysis of discourses in Nepal (English, Urdu and Nepali) about Muslims, I argue there is an underlying narrative representing Muslims as either cooperative supporters of Hindu religious life in a Hindu majority culture or as dangerous non-patriots with proclivities to violence. I argue that both representations are problematic, as neither correspond with the lived realities of this internally diverse and increasingly globalised religious minority. I also attempt to demonstrate that these narrative tropes bring into view important distinctions between religion as an abstract category and religion as a lived reality for Muslims in contemporary South Asia.


Original version from the publisher at http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/2393861717705918



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