• Summary
  • Contents
  • Subject index

Identity Politics in India and Europe combines qualitative methods (20 interviews) with historical and philosophical analysis. The first part of the book discusses the history of perceptions between the Europe of Latin Christianity and the so-called Muslim world, starting from the 7th century onwards. The second part is devoted to a discussion on the emergence of modernity and how it changed the identity politics of earlier times. The third part explores the role that intellectual elites have to play. It comprises interviews of eminent scholars and thinkers in India such as Imtiaz Ahmad and Ashis Nandy. These make for an insightful read, especially as subtle ideological differences surface in their responses to a set of common questions.


According to some, the sphere of culture is defined by reference to symbols, metaphors or symbolic actions with characteristic meanings, and not by reference to rules governing human behaviour. Dipankar Gupta suggests the term ‘root metaphor’ for the basic beliefs underlying each cultural sphere, for example, the belief in purity and impurity underlying the South Asian conception of caste. Such deep-rooted beliefs control the interaction of individuals in a very elementary and pervasive sense—often subconsciously.1 Wittgenstein, however, has taught us how ‘meaning’ (also the meaning of metaphors) can be translated back into ‘social practice’. What Wittgenstein observes about language is essentially true of everything that involves intentionality—whether this be human actions, speech acts or even rituals. Knowing the meaning of something in this broader ...

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