Religion, Gender and the Postcolonial Crisis of the Present: Reflections on and from India


  • Kalpana Ram


The paper explores the crisis in modernity's incapacity to address the Other in various overlapping domains, those of 'religion', 'woman', 'tradition' and 'non-western societies'. It argues that this incapacity, intrinsic to the very construction of modernity, has seriously weakened secular modern emancipatory projects not only in the west, but within countries like India. In India, projects strong among Indian intellectuals, such as feminism, secularism and socialism, face a crisis in their capacity to oppose the rise of Hindu religious nationalism. The paper explores the weaknesses in these projects particularly in their understanding of human agency, through a detailed examination of the way religion has been constructed in modern understandings of belief, ritual, choice and tradition.