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Srivastava, Sanjay (2017) 'Divine Markets: Ethnographic Notes on Postnationalism and Moral Consumption in India.' In: Rudnyckyj, Daromir and Osella, Filippo, (eds.), Religion and the Morality of Market. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 94-115.

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This chapter explores the connections between contemporary practices of religiosity and one of the most sociologically significant processes of contemporary Indian life: consumerism. The chapter builds upon other discussions that explore this relationship in different parts of the world (Stambach 2000; Eickelman and Anderson 2003; Oosterbaan 2009), as well as those which address India specifically (e.g., T. Srinivas 2010; Srivastava 2011). The discussion will proceed through outlining two ethnographic vignettes that illustrate the particular ways in which consumerism and religiosity are intertwined, while not being reducible to each other. In this way, the chapter seeks to interrogate two approaches to the study of religion, custom, and social and cultural transformation in India. The first of these concerns the so-called “Hindutva” project of “restoration” and purity that have formed staple topics in analyses of religious fundamentalism in India (see, e.g., Blom Hansen 1999; Bacchetta 2004). In these works, the idea of a return to a pure and untainted past is frequently represented as a reaction to processes of intense social and economic change. Hence, as Blom Hansen puts it, “To human beings experiencing social mobility, or a loss of socioeconomic and cultural status produced by urbanization or ‘minoritization’ the issue of identity – the urge to eradicate the doubt that splits the subjects – becomes more acute than in situations of relative social stability” (1999: 212). Indeed, the idea that an “inner” Indian self is sought to be protected during times of change has become scholarly commonsense in a wide variety of studies. These include the contexts of “colonial modernity” (Chatterjee 1993), postcolonial life (Singer 1972) and emotional life (Desjarlais and Wilce 2003). The ethnographic examples of this chapter seek to outline broader trends within Indian society where consumerism itself is the grounds for religiosity, rather than the latter providing a “refuge” from the processes of social and cultural change. Further, the chapter suggests that that this produces a context that is not significantly about a search for a pure and singular self. Rather, it points in the direction of a split subject, where splitting is not an act of enfeeblement but, rather, a strategy of engaging with a wide range of economic and social processes.

Item Type: Book Chapters
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > Department of Anthropology & Sociology
ISBN: 9781107186057
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 23 Oct 2022 09:40

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