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Title: Witchcraft, religious transformation, and Hindu nationalism in rural central India
Author: Desai, Amit A.
Awarding Body: London School of Economics and Political Science (University of London)
Current Institution: London School of Economics and Political Science (University of London)
Date of Award: 2007
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This thesis is an anthropological exploration of the connections between witchcraft, religious transformation, and Hindu nationalism in a village in an Adivasi (or 'tribal') area of eastern Maharashtra, India. It argues that the appeal of Hindu nationalism in India today cannot be understood without reference to processes of religious and social transformation that are also taking place at the local level. The thesis demonstrates how changing village composition in terms of caste, together with an increased State presence and particular view of modernity, have led to difficulties in satisfactorily curing attacks of witchcraft and magic. Consequently, many people in the village and wider area have begun to look for lasting solutions to these problems in new ways. A significant number have joined a Hindu religious sect, the Mahanubhav Panth, seen as particularly efficacious in matters of healing. Membership of this sect however alters the values and practices of adherents which not only causes conflict with non-sect neighbours and kin but also resonates powerfully with the messages promoted by Hindu nationalist agents in the area. The thesis engages key areas of anthropological concern: the relationship between individual action and social structure; kinship and sociality; State activity; and religious conversion.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available