Luckily, the server farms in Oxford remained unaffected by the huge electricity blackout rocking North India for the last 48 hours. Ever since my post on Muslim names, they stoically crawled through Lucknow's current electoral rolls to guess the religious community each voter belongs to. They identified 98% of all voters at the pace of roughly half a million names a day (for comments on the accuracy of this matching exercise, see below). And they thus enabled me to generate a draft map of Muslim life in Lucknow by caculating population shares (voter population shares, to be precise) on polling booth level and linking them to polling station locality (drawn from the National Informatics Centre).

Apart from the river (in blue), my own home (red dot), and the MODIS built-up area polygon already featured in earlier maps, the following visualization shows "Muslim name" density (background shade), Haj pilgrims (green circles; drawn from the 2012 Qurrah), and major Islamic institutions in Lucknow. The map is interactive: do zoom in for increasing detail, and click on the mosques to get to the respective institution's website (there is also a larger version):

Recently, my second refereed article appeared in print - in which I present the struggles of two Muslim female peace activists from Gujarat to make an argument about the ambivalence and ambiguity of the sacred. Publication is not quite a cause for celebration, though, at least not yet: now, I also want the article to be read and critiqued... With today's post, I thus try to lure you into downloading it (I negotiated open access), by telling part of the story behind the text.1 I do so in English, even though the article itself appeared in German only (but don't worry: I posted a shorter version of my argument a fortnight ago on this blog). While unfortunate for non-German speakers, this was a necessary step to prevent the paper from jeopardizing ongoing negotiations for my monograph on Gujarat - which is now forthcoming from Sage, New Delhi.2 Book publishers don't like it if too much material from any given project is already in print - writing in German, and thus addressing a different audience, was my way around this.

  • 1. Background: these days, I fetched a tweet about an interesting altmetric publication impact experiment: putting your research on twitter, blogs, and social media sites is said to multiply readership. Lets see it this actually works...
  • 2. Another cause for celebration, of course - though I could need some help: in case anybody is interested in data visualization strategies, please leave me a note - I plan a website to go along with the book, and am looking for beta testers...

Later today, I will give a talk on my Gujarat project at Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar University Lucknow. While preparing my notes for this lecture, I realized that I somehow missed to put any extensive english summary of this project online til today. To fill this gap: here come today's notes (which in turn build on earlier talks and conference papers); please refer, however, to my published work, especially my monograph, if you want to cite my findings -- these notes are rough and not meant for further distribution.1. In the meantime, however, I am curious for your comments below, as always...

  • 1. Is publishing them on this blog a contradiction, then? Mabye, yes...

While I am tempted, it would seem a bit insensitive to continue blogging about the two goats of Rifah-e-Aam Club today. It's Baqr Eid after all - most likely, if unfortunately, the last day of their lives. While there is a lot to be said about the Club, about Eid, and about the goats, I shall leave this to next week - and instead reflect on the possibilities and limits of having a dialogue with communalists.

Every Indian knows whether he or she is a Muslim or not. But what it probably means to be one, in which contexts one chooses to identify oneself that way and whether being Muslim is one's sole religious identity remain very open questions. These questions constitute the core of my PhD project on Muslim belonging in contemporary Lucknow, and they are introduced in today's post.

Apart from this introductory post on my topic, there are:
A post on my conceptual framework
Another post on my methodological approach
Finally a post on why I chose Lucknow as a fieldsite

What puzzles me ever since I did my research among Muslim peace activists in Gujarat (and probably since long before, but that's another story) is how discursive attempts to delimit the substantive content, contextual relevance or exclusive status of Muslimness are taken up, digested, and at times resisted by individual Muslims. The ambivalences and ambiguities that shape Muslims' relations to other Muslims and to the numinous arguably depend on both discursive resources and personal experiences - but the latter rarely attract as much attention as the former. I thus not only want to understand how these two levels interact, but more specifically how processes of navigation and digestation of discourses work, in which social fields they take place and which various shapes they might take on the level of individual biographies.