Religious media, devotional Islam, and the morality of ethnic pluralism in Mauritius

Seminar date: 
11 December 2008
Speaker(s): Patrick Eisenlohr

Patrick Eisenlohr is Professor of Anthropology in the Department of Cultural Anthropology at Utrecht University. He previously held positions at Washington University in St. Louis and New York University, and has conducted research on transnational Hindu and Muslim networks, language and the diaspora, and media technology in Mauritius. His publications include Little India: Diaspora, Time, and Ethnolinguistic Belonging in Hindu Mauritius (University of California Press, 2006), and a range of articles on language, nationalism and the diaspora as well as religious pluralism, secularism and media.

Discussant: Tijo Salverda, Faculteit der Sociale Wetenschappen, Afd. Sociale en Culturele Antropologie, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

Focusing on the circulation of religious media and their emphasis on religiously grounded notions of the common good, this paper addresses the importance of a media-sustained public sphere for the modalities of ethnic pluralism in Mauritius. I contextualize uses of religious media against the background of a dominant discourse of pluralism, which identifies successful coexistence with moral and social values emerging from the negotiation of orthodoxy and authenticity in religious traditions. The media-driven dynamics of ethnic and religious pluralism also highlight the affective and emotional dimensions of the public sphere, as they are evident in Mauritian engagements with religious media.