Religion and Armed Revolutionary Movements: the Naxalites, Birsa Munda, Christianity and Hindu Sects

Centre of Global South Asian Studies and the Department of Anthropology, University of Copenhagen invites you to a public lecture by 

Alpa Shah on 'Religion and Armed Revolutionary Movements: the Naxalites, Birsa Munda, Christianity and Hindu Sects’

This paper seeks to offer some general theoretical and political reflections on the relationship between religion and the revolutionary secular left. It does so by re-reading Ranajit Guha’s Elementary Aspects of a Peasant Insurgency, and in particular Guha's account of the Birsa Munda movement at the turn of the nineteenth century. This re-reading is prompted by long term ethnographic field research on the contemporary spread both of an underground Maoist guerrilla movement (the Naxalites) and of a devotional sect in Jharkhand, India.

Alpa Shah is Reader in the Department of Anthropology at the London School of Economics (LSE). She is the author of “In the Shadows of the State: Indigenous Politics, Environmentalism and Insurgency in India(Duke University Press 2010). Her co-edited volumes include: with Stuart Corbridge, “The Underbelly of the Indian Boom,” Economy and Society, 42:3 2013; with Sara Shneiderman, “Towards and Anthropology of Affirmative Action: the practices, policies and politics of transforming inequality in South Asia,” Focaal, 65:3 2013; with Jens Lerche and Barbara Harriss-White, “Agrarian Transitions and Left Politics in India,” Journal of Agrarian Change, 13, 2013; and with Judith Pettigrew, “Windows into a Revolution: Ethnographies of Maoism in India and Nepal (Social Science Press, 2012 and Dialectical Anthropology 2009). Alpa is currently writing a book on India’s Naxalite or Maoist movement, one of the world’s longest standing insurgencies, trying to seize power of the state to create a communist society. At the LSE, Alpa leads the Programme of Research on Inequality and Poverty (funded by the ESRC and the ERC).

The session will chaired by Dr. Luisa Steur 

Date: Friday, 23rd October 2015
Time: 13.30-15.30
Venue: 16.2.55, Faculty of Social Sciences, Østerfarimagsgade 5, Copenhagen