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Green, Nile

Nile Green. The Faqir and the Subalterns: Mapping the Holy Man in Colonial South Asia

Compte-rendu réalisé par Mauro Valdinoci
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Nile Green. « The Faqir and the Subalterns: Mapping the Holy Man in Colonial South Asia ». Journal of Asian History, vol. 41, n° 1, 2007, p. 57-84.

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1To refer to the figure of the faqīr, typically characterized as a renunciatory, mendicant with anticonformist behavior, the author introduces the word “polivestiary” for “those holy men and saints whose various groups of followers symbolically ‘clothe’ them in ways reflecting the group’s own religious tradition” (p. 59). This article criticizes the dualistic Hindu/Muslim model that ignores the variety of the religious ideas held by these holy men’s followers. By claiming that the polivestiary holy man is an alternative to existing labels, such as “cross-cultural”, “hybrid” or “syncretic”, which imply a process of amalgamation between monolithic traditions, the author seeks to explain the multiple identities often acquired by these holy men. Drawing on written sources (hagiographies and official documents) and oral history, this article reconstructs the life of a one such faqīr so as to illustrate the social and cultural norms that shaped his personality and cult. This faqīr, popularly known as Bane Miyān, who died in Awrangabad ca. 1921, is compared to similar figures from colonial India. The article concludes that the form of religiosity shared by Bane Miyān’s Hindu and Muslim followers and described in hagiographies was based more on unwavering devotion to the saint than on formalities and prescriptions. Bane Miyān’s tradition was an important expression of customary cultural practices during a time of religious nationalism and reform.

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Mauro Valdinoci. Green, Nile, « Nile Green. The Faqir and the Subalterns: Mapping the Holy Man in Colonial South Asia », Abstracta Iranica [En ligne], Volume 32-33 | 2013, document 276, mis en ligne le 01 juillet 2016, consulté le 30 mars 2017. URL : http://abstractairanica.revues.org/40631

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