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Muslim Societies in South Asia Seminar

Frank Korom, Professor of Religion and Anthropology at Boston University
Chair: Ali Asani, Professor of Indo-Muslim and Islamic Religion and Cultures, Faculty of Arts and Sciences; Director, Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Islamic Studies Program

This lecture explores the social predicament of a low-caste community of narrative scroll painters in West Bengal known as Patuas. Originally Hindu, they converted to Islam in the thirteenth century. Since then, they have weathered the rough waters of double marginalization; that is, low caste and Muslim. I argue that rather than seeing them as victims, it is better to understand their liminal status as a vehicle for empowerment. The data for the presentation draws on over a decade of fieldwork in Medinipur District, a predominantly agricultural region south of Kolkata.

Cosponsored with the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Islamic Studies Program