Kartik Maini

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Chicago, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 10704

Approve Date

April 15, 2024

Project Title

Maini, Kartik (Chicago, U. of) "Between Krishna and Muhammad: Becoming 'Pranami' at the Threshold of Religion"

My project follows the self-making of the Pranamis, a religious community in India that has remained at the margins of scholarly and popular discourse. Although enumeratively Hindu, Pranami religion defies easy boundaries, which, with the ascendancy of anti-Muslim communalism and majoritarian nationalism in recent years, have become aggressively unyielding. Islamic traditions are indelibly inscribed in Pranami scriptures, religious practices, and material culture. Moving beyond studies of ‘shared’ sacred and secular spaces where Hindus and Muslims commingle fleetingly, this community-engaged ethnography examines how Pranamis confront and creatively resist pressures to become ‘Hindu’ – i.e., to eschew the plenitude of their religious selves. My work conjoins a range of methods – bridging archival, ethnographic, and material analysis – and insights culled from diverse disciplines. I attend closely to Pranami reading practices, performance traditions, life narratives, and manners of relating to their composite material heritage. A multimodal, multi-sited ethnography toggling between temples, cemeteries, neighborhoods, and rapidly gentrifying cityscapes, my project revisits the naturalization of religious identities in our disciplines. As such, I propose that Pranami gestures and longings, far from being aberrations, reveal the fragility of majoritarian ways of governing religion.