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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In the journal South Asian History and Culture, Burton Cleetus reviews Kerala Modernity: Ideas, Spaces and Practices in Transition, edited by Satheesh Chandra Bose and Shiju Sam Varughese, Hyderabad, Orient BlackSwan, 2015. Advance access online.