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Irreverence and the SacredCritical Studies in the History of Religions$
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Hugh Urban and Greg Johnson

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190911966

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190911966.001.0001

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Death, Nationalism, and Sacrifice

Death, Nationalism, and Sacrifice

Ritual, Violence, Politics, and Tourism in Northeast India

(p.156) 7 Death, Nationalism, and Sacrifice
Irreverence and the Sacred

Hugh B. Urban

Oxford University Press

This chapter takes up Bruce Lincoln’s idea of ritual as an “instrument of struggle” in order to examine the intense debates over animal sacrifice in modern India. Looking specifically at recent controversies surrounding sacrifice in the state of Assam, the chapter suggests that animal killing lies at the center of a much larger series of struggles over religious identity and the boundaries of the modern nation. Most recently, sacrifice has become central to debates over tourism and economic development in northeast India, as conservative Hindu politicians have tried to transform Assam into a new engine of national growth, while at the same time trying to purify the local practices of their messier and bloodier aspects.

Keywords:   ritual, sacrifice, politics, nationalism, India, Hinduism, indigenous religions, Assam

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