Comparative Islamic Studies, Vol 1, No 2 (2005)

Adab and Banarsipan: Embodying Community among Muslim Artisans in Varanasi, India*

Christopher Lee
Issued Date: 4 Feb 2007


In this article, I consider adab (“cultured respectfulness”) and banarsipan (“Banaras-ness”) as two ways-of-being for working-class Muslims in the Indian city of Varanasi. Each of these identities contain its own ontology and truths about the remembered past, the lived present, and the processes which
created them, and thus serves as alternatives to nationalist and communal identities and the histories they present. These ways-of-being are examined using a theoretical orientation that brings together concepts of bodily hexis and
social memory, which offers a promising way to consider local or marginal Muslim communities, their emic configurations of meaning, power, status and personhood, and their relationship with dominant or normative Muslim groups and identities.

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DOI: 10.1558/cist.v1i2.839

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