A Plea for the Cosmopolitan in the Age of “Common Sense”

Friday, 20 July 2018: 18:10
Oral Presentation
Gillian MCCANN, Nipissing University, Canada
In an interview, the academic and writer Azar Nifisi lamented the lack of attention paid to cosmopolitan traditions within Islam by the western media. In this paper I will build on Nifisi’s observation and examine more generally trends in culture that erase mixed and mongrel heritage. We appear to live in an age where both religious and national groups increasingly use the language of purity as way to create and police both political and personal boundaries. Using the theories of Mary Douglas and Malek Khouri, among others, I will argue that resistance needs to be mounted against histories and theories that erase the messy and hybrid realities of religious and cultural traditions such as those in India, where colonization has imposed strict boundaries about ideas of religion. This has contributed to Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims re-writing and "purifying" their histories to fit this model. The erasure by revision of mongrel cosmopolitan realities must stop so that untidy lived religiosities may be properly theorized.