HAU

Jinnealogy: Everyday life and Islamic theology in post-Partition Delhi

Anand Vivek Taneja

Abstract


In this article I explore what I call jinnealogy, a theological orientation that emerges when the genealogies of human memory are confronted with the amnesic forces of an obliterated landscape. In stories told in contemporary Delhi, long-lived jinn act as transmitters connecting human beings centuries apart in time. In petitions deposited to jinn-saints in a ruined medieval palace, medieval ideas of justice come together with modern bureaucratic techniques. Both stories and rituals attest to a theological newness intricately entwined with the transformations of the postcolonial city’s spiritual and physical landscapes. Jinn are present in the blank spaces of the map, where the plans of the bureaucracy, the verdicts of the judiciary, and the illegibility of the post-Partition Indian state coincide to attempt vast erasures of the city’s Muslim landscapes. Jinnealogy, the supersession of human chains of memory by the long lives of the jinn, challenges the magical amnesia of the state by bringing up other temporalities, political theologies, and modes of witnessing against the empty, homogenous time of a bureaucratically constituted present.


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.14318/hau3.3.007