Book review / Privileged Minorities

Madathilathu, Prince Varghese. ‘Review of Privileged Minorities: Syrian Christianity, Gender, and Minority Rights in Postcolonial India by Sonja Thomas’. Journal of World Christianity 10, no. 1 (2020): 131-33.

Excerpt: Sonja Thomas, in Privileged Minorities, argues that the Syrian Christians of Kerala—though demographically a minority community in India—are not a subordinated community but a privileged community in terms of caste, race, and class, in spite of the general tendency to categorise them as subaltern.
The author analyses the dynamics of ‘privilege’ and ‘subordination’ in this community from a feminist perspective by examining historical and religious texts; analysing clothing, minority rights, and protest movements; interviewing and examining the contemporary ways in which Syrian Christians interact within and outside the community.

Reposted from Kerala Scholars eGroup

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Book reviews / Monsoon Islam: Trade and Faith on the Medieval Malabar Coast

Sheikh, Samira. Review of Monsoon Islam: Trade and Faith on the Medieval Malabar Coast, by Sebastian R. Prange. H-Asia, H-Net Reviews (June 2020).

Extracts: Prange’s book is an attempt to understand the creative engagements, facilitated by politics and trading contacts, that went into “realizing” Kerala’s characteristic versions of Islam…. 

Monsoon Islam is arranged around spaces—port, mosque, palace, sea—which are the rubrics for its four chapters. Its locale is the Malabar coast between the twelfth and sixteenth centuries when local production of pepper and other spices made it a coveted trade destination….

He [Prange] has brought scrupulous multilingual scholarship to difficult questions of history, identity, and myth and his book deserves to be widely read.

More info and full text: <http://www.h-net.org/reviews/showrev.php?id=53037>

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Book review / Violence, Citizenship and Minorities in Kerala

Ahmad, Zarin. ‘Review of Interrogating Communalism: Violence, Citizenship and Minorities in South India, by Salah Punathil’. Contributions to Indian Sociology 54, no. 2 (June 2020): 347–49.

Excerpt (edited): The book addresses the contours of conflict and violence between two fishing communities, the Marakkayar Muslims and the Mukkuvar Christians in Kerala. By exploring the long history of violence among two distinctive fishing communities, the work problematises the taken-for-granted notion of mobilisation of religious identity implicit in the discourse on communal violence and foregrounds the spatial dynamics in violent conflicts which is the essential contribution of the work.

More info: https://doi.org/10.1177/0069966720916335

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Book review / Memory, Kinship and Middle Classes

Abraham, Janaki. ‘Review of The Fall of Gods: Memory, Kinship, and Middle Classes in South India, by Ester Gallo’. Contributions to Indian Sociology 54, no. 2 (June 2020): 326–29.

Excerpt: This is a special book for several reasons: for exploring a social history on which few anthropologists have written; for the focus on memory and middle class identity when most studies of the new middle classes are synchronic; more generally for the way she brings out the importance of kinship and kinship memories for a class analysis; for the exploration of how memories of the past shape kinship relationships in the present; for the intra-caste differences highlighted; for the way Gallo skilfully presents the very varied and complex ethnography; and for the way she gives voice to both men and women and to changing intergenerational relationships.

More info: https://doi.org/10.1177/0069966720914050

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Book review / Development and Gender Capital in Kerala

Anjali K.K.. ‘Review of Development and Gender Capital in India: Change, Continuity and Conflict in Kerala, by Shoba Arun. Indian Journal of Human Development 14, no. 1 (April 2020): 139–42.

More info: <https://doi.org/10.1177/0973703020919834>

Reposted from Kerala Scholars eGroup

Editor’s note: We circulated news of this book in January 2018 https://ksmessenger.wordpress.com/2019/12/09/book-development-and-gender-capital-in-kerala/, and news of a review of this book in January 2019 https://ksmessenger.wordpress.com/2020/03/01/book-review-development-and-gender-capital-in-kerala/ .

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Book Review (OA) / Sermon on Saint Thomas, the Beloved Apostle

14 Feb 2020
John Clines, Robert John. 2020. ‘Review of Sermon on Saint Thomas, the Beloved Apostle: A Syriac Catholic Panegyric from Seventeenth Century Malabar, by Radu Mustaţă’. Journal of Jesuit Studies 7, no. 1 (January): 139–41.
Excerpts (edited): Radu Mustaţă’s critical edition and translation of an early seventeenth-century Syriac sermon celebrating the Apostle Thomas is a window into the accommodative practices of early modern missionary Catholicism on one hand and the rich continuities of Syriac Christianity on the other.
Mustaţă’s exploration of the syntax, literary motifs, structure, and exegetical layers of the sermon demonstrates that this sermon was most likely a part of a Jesuit missionary toolkit that aimed to present traditional Syriac Christian beliefs and customs as wholly compatible with Tridentine Catholicism.
More info and full text (OA): https://doi.org/10.1163/22141332-00701009-03
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Book review / Unruly Figures

3 Jan 2020
Sreedharan, Janaky. ‘Review of Unruly Figures: Queerness, Sex Work, and the Politics of Sexuality in Kerala, by Navaneetha Mokkil’. Review of Development and Change 24, no. 2 (December 2019): 283–85.
Excerpt (edited): This book engages with this dynamic period [post-1990s] from a refreshingly different perspective through an imaginative assemblage of materials straddling diverse disciplines and layers of social lives. An elaborate introduction embeds the book in the complex layers of the social history of Kerala, where divergent narratives vie for an interpretive upper hand.
In a deft fusion of the personal and historical, Mokkil lays bare the inadequacy of a transnational metropolitan discourse and critical categories to address and comprehend the regional, local and vernacular. The book is a sensitive attempt to retrieve the feel of experiences which cannot be explained away by tropes and categories honed within the smithy of Eurocentric critical thought.
Reposted from Kerala Scholars eGroup

Book review / Education, Migration and Development

30 Dec 2019
Rajesh, K. P. ‘Review of Education, Migration and Development: Kerala Experience, by K. Jafar’. Review of Development and Change 24, no. 2 (December 2019): 285–87.
Excerpt: Jafar’s objective is to understand the effects of mass education, international migration and virtuous growth on the process of human development in Kerala.
Based on quantitative and qualitative surveys in three geographically different regions (coastal area, highland and agrarian hinterland) of Malappuram district, he unravels the complex relationships between socio-economic aspects, such as gender, education, religion, political participation, economic opportunities, capabilities and freedoms.
Using Sen’s (1999/2000) framework of development as ‘expansion of freedom’, he examines the processes by which capabilities evolve and are formed at the local level. The study’s contribution to the human development approach is in the unravelling of complex local dynamics.
Reposted from Kerala Scholars eGroup.

Book review / Unruly Figures: Queerness, Sex Work and the Politics of Sexuality in Kerala

28 Nov 2019
Vijayakumar, Gowri. ‘Review of Unruly Figures: Queerness, Sex Work, and the Politics of Sexuality in Kerala by Navaneetha Mokkil’. Gender & Society. Published ahead of print, 6 November 2019.
Excerpt (edited): On the shifting terrain of contemporary Indian sexual politics, two opposing narratives often surface. On one hand is an account of linear progress from oppressive tradition to globalisation, modernity, and sexual freedom. On the other is an account of an idealised, precolonial, sexually tolerant past, suppressed by, and finally freed from, colonial morality.
Navaneetha Mokkil’s subtle and wide-ranging book on sexuality in Kerala complicates narratives of ‘a quick transition from silence to celebration’ (6). Unruly Figures weaves a picture of a contradictory, uneven and volatile sexual terrain, of ‘flickering movements that cannot be reified’ (200). Mokkil makes a powerful argument for the region as a dynamic site for theorising sexuality and politics.
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Book review / Ethnic Church Meets Megachurch: Indian American Christianity in Motion

7 Nov 2019
Jung, Gowoon. Review of Ethnic Church Meets Megachurch: Indian American Christianity in Motion, by Prema A. Kurien. Journal of Asian American Studies 22, no. 3 (October 2019): 452-54. Project MUSE.
Excerpt (edited): The book provides a theoretically rich and
empirically valuable description of Indian American megachurches, which serve as a refuge from the downward mobility, racism, and cultural misunderstandings in American society.
Kurien demonstrates how Mar Thoma Church (MTC) serves as an important ethnic community, an ‘extended family’ for first- and second-generation Indian Americans to secure emotional, social, and economic capital in their adaptation and to morally and culturally educate their children.
Her accounts do not romanticise multigenerational congregations; rather, they provide a balanced portrait of a community with unavoidable tensions and contradictions among its various groups.
Her book leads us to assess the impact of globalization on religious institutions and how large-scale religious institutions respond to the global flow of migrants, ideas, and cultural norms.
Reposted from Kerala Scholars eGroup