, Volume 50, Issue 3, pp 499-501
Date: 21 May 2011

Review of Arvind-Pal S. Mandair, Religion and the Specter of the West: Sikhism, India, Postcoloniality, and the Politics of Translation

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In his recent book, Arvind-Pal S. Mandair ranges widely through post-colonial theory, Sikh history, and continental philosophy to show that aspects of the Sikh tradition were recast in the colonial period in terms of the concept of religion (conceived as a cultural universal) and in terms of the emerging discourse on religion being manufactured by the nascent field of the history of religion. This is a masterful work, perhaps less for the originality of its thesis than for Mandair’s command over his vast body of sources and the scholarly traditions they represent and for his ability to marshal them in support of his case. There was surely no longer any doubt that the colonial project, in an early phase of the hegemonic globalization of western concepts and values, decisively and substantially altered the South Asian religious landscape, but Mandair has now authored an authoritative account of that dramatic shift and its impact on Sikh traditions.

Space prevents a comprehensive review th ...