SOAS University of London

SOAS South Asia Institute

Outrage: The Rise of Religious Offence in Contemporary South Asia.

Outrage: The Rise of Religious Offence in Contemporary South Asia.
Paul Rollier (University of St. Gallen), Farzana Shaikh (Chatham House, London)

Date: 16 October 2019Time: 5:00 PM

Finishes: 16 October 2019Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: Paul Webley Wing (Senate House) Room: Wolfson Lecture Theatre

Type of Event: Book Launch


Whether spurred by religious images or academic history books, hardly a day goes by in South Asia without an incident or court case occurring as a result of hurt religious feelings. The sharp rise in blasphemy accusations over the past few decades calls for an investigation into why offence politics has become so pronounced, and why it is observable across religious and political differences.

Outrage offers an interdisciplinary study of this growing trend. Bringing together researchers in Anthropology, Religious Studies, Languages, South Asia Studies and History, all with rich experience in the variegated ways in which religion and politics intersect in this region, the volume presents a fine-grained analysis that navigates and unpacks the religious sensitivities and political concerns under discussion.

Each chapter focuses on a recent case or context of alleged blasphemy or desecration in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Myanmar, collectively exploring common denominators across national and religious differences. Among the common features are the rapid introduction of social media and smartphones, the possible political gains of initiating blasphemy accusations, and the growing self-assertion of marginal communities. These features are turning South Asia into a veritable flash point for offence controversies in the world today, and will be of interest to researchers exploring the intersection of religion and politics in South Asia and beyond.


Farzana Shaikh is an Associate Fellow of the Asia-Pacific Programme at the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House) in London. A specialist on Pakistan, she has lectured and held senior research positions at universities in the UK, Europe and the United States.  She has written widely on Pakistan and is the author of Community and Consensus in Islam: Muslim Representation in Colonial India, 1860-1947 and, most recently, Making Sense of Pakistan (2009, 2018).  She holds a Ph.D. from Columbia University in New York.       

Co-editor: Paul Rollier is a social anthropologist with research interests in religion, politics and the everyday in South Asia and Pakistan in particular. He received his PhD from SOAS and is currently an Assistant Professor in South Asia Studies at the University of St Gallen (Switzerland), and an Honorary Research Associate in Anthropology at UCL. He recently co-authored Mafia Raj: The Rule of Bosses in South Asia (Stanford University Press, 2018).

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Organiser: SOAS South Asia Institute

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