Gil Ben-Herut and Jon Keune, "Regional Communities of Devotion in South Asia: Insiders, Outsiders, and Interlopers" (Routledge, 2019)

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Gil Ben-Herut and Jon Keune's book Regional Communities of Devotion in South Asia: Insiders, Outsiders, and Interlopers (Routledge, 2019) explores the key motif of the religious Other in devotional (bhakti) literatures and practices from across the Indian subcontinent. The primary aim of this book is to reconsider and challenge inherited notions of the bhakta's or devotee's Other and unmask processes of representation that involve adoption, appropriation, and rejection of different social and religious agents. The book considers the ways in which bhakti might be conceived as having an inter-regional impact--as a force, discourse, network, mythology, ethic--while critically engaging with extant scholarly narratives about what bhakti is and tracing when and how those narratives have been used. The sheer diversity of South Asia's devotional traditions renders them an especially rich resource for examining social and religious fault lines, thereby furthering scholarly understanding of how communalism and sectarianism originate and develop on local or regional levels, with wider geographic implications. Bringing together studies from a subcontinent-wide variety of linguistic, geographical, and historical frames for the first time, this book will be an important contribution to the literature on bhakti, and it will be of interest to scholars of South Asian Religion and Asian Religion.

Raj Balkaran is a scholar, educator, consultant, and life coach. For information see rajbalkaran.com.

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