Mehta, Deepak
Work, Ritual, Biography



Work, Ritual, Biography: A Muslim Community in North India

Work, Ritual, Biography provides an analysis of a community of Muslim weavers of Barabanki in Uttar Pradesh. It discusses the nature of weaving, its links with the sacred, and its embeddedness in the Ansari social structure. The processes of weaving are formulated with reference to the Mufidul Mu’rninin, the sacred text of the weavers. Through its strategic uses, the Ansaris constitute a tradition of work, one that talks of the nobility of the craft. In this tradition, the role of women workers is subordinated. However, as quilt-makers, women also constitute an autonomous domain of work, from within which they critique the orthodox tradition. Common to both weaving and quilt-making is the emphasis on embodiment. The body is consciously represented as the site on which the social structure of the Ansaris is inscribed. This inscription is also found in the ritual of circumcision. Through the ritual the body is a zone of enacting the divisions of the social structure, but also the site where the community of Islam is inscribed. This inscription becomes problematic with discourse of an individual member of the community, known as Sufi Baba. Through his bodily practices he interrogates the boundary of the Ansari social structure and expresses an alternative sacrality.

Work, Ritual, Biography: A Muslim Community in North India, Deepak Mehta, Oxford University Press, 1997

Hardcover. Decimo. Underlying in pencil. A tight copy. Good condition.