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Disenchanting IndiaOrganized Rationalism and Criticism of Religion in India$
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Johannes Quack

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199812608

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199812608.001.0001

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ANiS in Action: The Science-Van

ANiS in Action: The Science-Van

(p.109) 10 ANiS in Action: The Science-Van
Disenchanting India

Johannes Quack

Oxford University Press

This chapter gives an ethnographic account of how ANiS activists use their science-vans to “disenchant India”, i.e. they conduct programmes at schools, colleges and villages with the aim of “spreading scientific temper” and “eradicating superstition”. After a description of the science-van, the general structure of an ANiS programme is provided, with a special focus on the way in which ANiS activists expose and explain alleged miracles performed by godmen. It also discusses why the rationalists aim to inculcate doubt and a “spirit of inquiry” amongst their fellow Indians. Finally, the chapter analyses the specific perspective taken by ANiS activists on issues such as the existence of ghosts, the reasons for spirit possession, and also addresses the issue of a gendered rationalistic discourse.

Keywords:   science-van, disenchantment, superstition, scientific temper, gender, ghost, possession, miracles, godman, spirit of inquiry, doubt

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