Colloquium Series: “The Post-Minority Condition: Reflections on the Pasmanda Muslim Discourse”

2019 Feb 15, Friday
Seminar Hall, 10th Floor, Pixel A (Azim Premji University)

About the Lecture

The contemporary deepening of democracy and general ethos of pluralization is throwing forth new subterranean political subjectivities and transformative spaces in various jurisdictions that are putting severe strains on official minority discourses. In the last few decades the theoretical domain of minority rights or multiculturalism has been increasingly problematized by the ‘internal minorities’ or ‘minorities-within-minorities’ problematique. In the Indian context the term ‘minority’ is often treated as coeval with the ‘Muslim’ community and the hegemonic minority rights regime—a complex of concepts, identity, institutions, policy, politics—has been increasingly deconstructed by the emergent Pasmanda Muslim counterdiscourse. The ideologues of the Pasmanda movement, a movement of subordinated caste Indian Muslims, have employed caste analytics to reveal the contingency of the Muslim-Minority space and resist the hegemony of high caste Ashraf Muslims thereby complicating the majority-minority (Hindu-Muslim) duopoly and destabilizing other related conceptual assemblages. I argue that the discursive ruptures inaugurated by the Pasmanda counterdiscourse poses tremendous conceptual and political challenges to the minority rights regime and its discursive field of secularism, cultural rights or reforms. Breaking away from the political templates of community articulations, the movement rather than claiming space of ‘yet another minority’ or ‘minority within minority’, calls forth new assemblages of political solidarities, discursive ruptures and social critiques thereby opening up the extant imagination of minority space in India in various productive ways. In my view, the emerging social and political condition that informs the democratic striving of the Pasmanda movement may tentatively be termed as ‘post-minority’.


About the Speaker

Khalid Anis Ansari is director, Dr. Ambedkar Centre for Exclusion Studies & Transformative Action (ACESTA), Glocal University, India. He broadly works in the field of social and cultural theory and takes keen interest in both grassroots organizing and scholarly interventions to publicize the history of resistance movements, particularly the social and political aspirations of subordinated caste Pasmanda Muslims. He was awarded the HIVOS PhD Fellowship—Pluralism Knowledge Programme (2010-2013) for his doctoral work on caste movements among Indian Muslims with the University of Humanistic Studies (UvH), Utrecht, the Netherlands.