Panel: Religiöse Pluralität als Herausforderung für Religionen und Politik


Raum: F 40, UG, Fürstenberghaus
Tag Zeit    
Di 16:00-16:30 Mendis de Zoysa

Categorizing “good Muslims” and “bad Muslims”  after the “Humanitarian War to eradicate Tamil Tiger Terrorism” in Sri Lanka

Di 16:30-17:00 Gugler

Pluralitätskulturen in Südasien 

Di 17:00-17:30 Siriwardane

Re-cloaking the Abaya: The Politics of Public Veiling in Postwar Sri Lanka

Di 17:30-18:00 Zachariah

Playing the Nation Game in India: The Invention of Hinduism for National Use


Thomas Gugler

Beschreibung des Panels:




Abstracts der Vorträge:

Gugler, Thomas: Pluralitätskulturen in Südasien

Südasien ist eine Region mit einer sehr alten und außerordentlich breiten Religionsvielfalt.

Religiöse Symbolsprachen sind harte Sinnressourcen mit hoher emotionaler Bindungskraft, die starke kollektive wie individuelle Identitäten zu formulieren erlauben und häufig in Verbindung mit einem mindestens ethischen Universalitätsanspruch auftreten. Tritt dieser in Verbindung mit einem Nationalstaat in Erscheinung, findet sich hierin eine Hauptquelle institutioneller und struktureller Gewalt (Pakistan, Sri Lanka).

Religiöse Deutungskulturen sind stark bestimmt durch sozialstrukturelle Prägekräfte wie Verteilungskämpfe um diverse symbolische Kapitalien und vielfältigen nichtreligiösen Faktoren, deren Entwicklungsdynamiken u.a. von regional dominanten Verwaltungsformen und Regierungsstilen geformt werden. Um die Besonderheiten religiöser und kultureller Mobilität in den Gesellschaften Südasiens zu verstehen, ist es zweckmäßig, vergleichend zu verfahren.

Mendis de Zoysa, Asoka: Categorizing “good Muslims” and “bad Muslims”  after the “Humanitarian War to eradicate Tamil Tiger Terrorism” in Sri Lanka

Muslims in Sri Lanka are the second largest minority, comprising of 8% of the total population. During the 30 years protracted conflict with the militant LTTE they were seen as the “one between”. The massacre of Muslim men at prayer in Eravur and Kathankudi  and the subsequent expulsion of  entire Muslim population from Northern District (which was about 5% of the population of the district) by the LTTE in 1990 show that although the Muslim community speake Tamil, they were seen as an ethnic group having no claim on the independent state in the north and the east for “Tamil People”. On the other hand, in the past 30 years, the Muslims were generally seen as a “good minority” who “understood their role as a good minority”.

Recent research by Farzana Haniffa (2008) has pinpointed the upcoming piety movements and religious revivalism among the Sri Lankan Muslims. Visual markers such as erection of mosques, Muslim women wearing the hijab and abhaya, Muslim entrepreneurs owning leading apparel and IT stores and the most recent anxiety, that the dominant Sinhala population will become a minority  based on the assumption that that the Muslim population has a higher growth rate, has punctuated post war Sri Lanka with regular mob violence. On many of these occasions the presence of yellow robed persons  instigating violence have been observed.

The planned attack of the Jumma Mosque in Dambulla April 2012,  and attack of  Ready to Wear store, in Colombo owned by a Muslim entrepreneur in April 2013 has led to many speculations, if the current mob violence would culminate in a replay of the “Black July of 1983” targeting not Tamils after thirty years, but Muslims scattered in the island. Muslim members of parliament and ministers in the present cabinet as well as the majority of high priests representing the Buddhist clergy too have been silent leaving a sinister vacuum for the escalation of further mob violence.

My ongoing research will first identify focus groups both from Muslim and Buddhist organizations. Information from interviews with spokesmen from the organizations will be matched with official statements issued by them in print and electronic media and other updates circulated through social media.  Areas coming under scrutiny are listed in the following set of questions:

How do  moderate Buddhist groups such as the National Sangha Confederation,  and more radical political parties such as the Jatika Hela Hurumaya react to the emergence of new groups, resorting to mob violence?  Which established and leading Buddhist temples in Colombo and their networks support the new activism? Which Mahanayakas (leading Buddhist priests) or head priests of temples have initiated planned more peaceful action to address the anxieties of the Sinhala Buddhists?  What support do they get from the established groups like the YMBA, All Ceylon Buddhist Association, Mahabodhi Society ect.?

How have the Muslim movements in the last twenty years been successful in introducing new life styles and maintaining Pious Practice among the  urban population in Colombo? What are their links with organizations such as Sri Lanka Jamthi Islam, Thauhid Jamath, Thableeq Jamath, and Jamathi Muslim Sri Lanka Jamthi Islam, Thauhid Jamath, Thableeq Jamath, and Jamathi Muslim? Who are the spokesmen for the organizations? What is the role of the Muslim women’s organizations? What support do they get from the established groups like the Moor’s Islamic Cultural Home, Muslim Council of Sri lanka and other Muslim organizations, which have a longer history in Colombo? What is the reaction of other Islamic communities such as Malay, Borah and Memons to the current situation?

Siriwardane, Rapti / Azhar, Jainul Mohamed: Re-cloaking the Abaya: The Politics of Public Veiling in Postwar Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka’s formative postwar years are increasingly being coloured by the intensification of ‘new’ religiopolitical movements. In nesting their grievances within narratives of national security, groups such as the Bodu Bala Sena (the Buddhist Force) declared a series of discursive ‘mini wars.’ In one respect, they claimed to combat what was framed as constituting a rising tide in Islamic extremism. Of these discursive battlefields, two issues were intensely politicized: the necessity of the Halal certification on domestic retail goods, together with the increasing number of ethnic Muslim women seen to be adopting the abaya costume.  Focusing on the second site of contestation, this paper reveals how dominant ethno-nationalist discourses serve to erase or flatten nuances with respect to the popularization of the abaya, and its concomitant forms of dress.  By focusing on the Eastern Province that is home to a significant number of Sri Lanka’s ethnic-Muslims, this study is concerned with the ethnography of everyday costume culture. It reveals how wartime insecurities and subsequent postwar transformations afforded a multiplicity of symbolic meanings around the abaya: as a show ethno-religious difference in an otherwise militarized environment; as a fashion statement among relatively recent waves of domestic workers returning from the Arab world, and as a symbol of identity and affluence among upwardly-mobile university educated women, among other forms of individual and collective expression.  At its core, the study questions what wearing the abaya (or in choosing not to), means for Muslim women, taking into account both inter and intra-group differences spanning across generational, rural-urban, occupational, class-based, and ethno-religious boundaries. In tracing the multi-stranded history of the abaya costume in Eastern Sri Lanka and the contemporary practices around it, this paper critically unpacks a raft of assumptions and myths that are increasingly gaining legitimacy within mainstream public debates, and are often cloaked in the anti-rhetorics of Islamic radicalism and factionalism.  The study draws upon qualitative data collected during ethnographic fieldwork in 2013, in the District of Trincomalee, Sri Lanka.

Zachariah, Benjamin: Playing the Nation Game in India: The Invention of Hinduism for National Use

This paper examines how the category ‘Hinduism’ was invested with the meanings it now has: religion, textual sources, finite doctrines, national identity. More specifically, it is an attempt to study the stages of preparation of the category for national use. ‘Preparation’ need not suggest instrumentality; the resort to ‘Hindu’ is not necessarily intended as a conscious act of exclusion (though it sometimes is), but it becomes a plausible basis for a positive identification of the ‘precolonial’ ‘national’, when it becomes important to identify and to identify with the ‘national’. This approach, of course, somewhat avoids the question of Hinduism’s ‘precolonial’ presences or multiplicities, if we take all of these together rather than separately. While ‘Hindu’ and its relative expressions were never fully ‘national’, because their multiple meanings spread well beyond the disciplining framework of the imagining of an Indian ‘nation’, or a future Indian state, the ‘national’ in the Indian case was extremely reliant on one or another version of the ‘Hindu’.

Benjamin Zachariah read history at Presidency College, Calcutta, and at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he obtained a PhD in 1999. He has taught at the University of Sussex, the School of Oriental and African Studies, London, and Sheffield University, and is now Professor of History at Presidency University (formerly College), Kolkata (formerly Calcutta).