Online Discourse and Reformist Islam in India

Author: Max Kramer (Ludwig Maximilians Universität)
Speaker: Max Kramer
Topic: Language in real and virtual spaces
The (SCOPUS / ISI) SOAS GLOCAL CALA 2019 General Session


In this presentation, I will investigate the online discourse of the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind (JIH) from a sociolinguistic perspective. The Jamaat-e-Islami Hind is perhaps the only larger South Asian organization of reformist Islam that no longer officially aims at establishing an Islamic state. Instead, scholars (Ahmad 2009; Islam 2015) have noted that the organization embraced the secular polity of the Indian nation-state. The presence of different languages, registers and scripts on the online platforms that represent the center organization, the JIH media-markaz (media-center), operating from New Delhi is the phenomena to be looked into during my presentation. I will analyze sociolinguistic indexing on the Jamaat’s official social media presences and related webpages. Special attention will be given to the politics of script (Devanagari, Nastaliq and Latin) as well as lexical items (Persian, Arabic or Sanskrit source-languages) within the larger political attempts of the Jamaat to participated in the national polity of India. Does the media-team of the party articulate through such an indexing the valued concepts of “secularism”, “pluralism”, “nation” and “Islam”? My arguments will be contextualized within the emerging fields on the sociolinguistics of religious politics (post-Islamism in India) and the anthropology of online politics (Udupa 2015). I will argue, that not only media agents from Barelvi traditions try to ‘localize’ the media discourse of Islamic Dawah in political terms (Parciack 2014) but the same is true-although in rather different ways-for the reformist Islamic agents of the JIH. This presentation is part of my larger research project in the media-anthropology of religious politics and the nation-state in India within the project ONLINERPOL at the Ludwig-Maximilians University Munich.

Keywords: Online discourse, Jamaat-e-Islami Hind (JIH), Sociolinguistics, South Asia, Islam