South Asia

Organized Panel Session

2 - Musalmani: Genes, Souls, and Congenital Circumcision

Saturday, July 7
8:30 AM - 10:00 AM
Location: Willow, First Floor

The violence that accompanied the decolonization of South Asia transformed male circumcision into a conspicuous bodily sign of religious faith. For long practiced by both Hindus and Muslims in Gangetic India, it suddenly became the exclusive marker of Muslimness. Tales circulated of rioters either letting people live or die upon inspection of their penises. It was within this fevered context that the issue of ‘congenital circumcision’ first emerged in the 1950s in South Asia. Over the next decades a range of directly competing explanations ranging from reincarnation to genetics have been advanced to explain the phenomenon. These debates remain deeply tinged with the larger context of ethno-religious conflict and the rival visions of the political future of the region. Drawing upon a range of research publications and scientific debates between the 1950s and the 1980s, I want to explore the tensions around the ways in which postcolonial selves and their embodiments were imagined within distinctive techno-disciplinary cultures.

Projit Bihari Mukharji

University of Pennsylvania, United States


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2 - Musalmani: Genes, Souls, and Congenital Circumcision

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Send Email for Musalmani: Genes, Souls, and Congenital Circumcision