Publication Type:

Conference papers


Raphael Susewind


DGA-Nachwuchstagung, January 18-20, Jena (2013)




In my ongoing dissertation project, I explore the diverse ways through which Muslims in Lucknow/India navigate normative discourses on Muslimness, the built landscape of Lucknow, and their personal biographies while (trans-)forming their sense of belonging. My work is based in constructivist understandings of identity and combines ethnographic methods with quantitative approaches during 1.5 years of fieldwork. At the time of the Nachwuchstagung, I will just have returned to Germany and be in the process of kick-starting analysis. I'd thus like to present a paper with methodological focus - even though I would include some draft substantive ideas, too. More specifically, the paper would pick one specific aspect of my overall research: the question of how names relate to experiences of belonging. What's in a name? I would begin by presenting a map of Muslim life in Lucknow which is largely based on names: it shows Muslim population distribution calculated from the percentage of "Muslim names" in the electoral rolls. The methodological issues this approach raises are the first point I would like to discuss and receive feedback on: is it possible to infer an individual's community from that individual's name, how is it possible, and what are the statistical as well as normative pitfalls thereof? After this quantitative entry, I would then switch towards more ethnographic data and discuss how my interlocutors made sense of this map. I would introduce their thoughts about naming practices and the relation of one's name to one's sense of belonging and identity. The paper would conclude by situating both quantitative and ethnographic insights within wider literature on the politics of naming in North India.