ECSAS 2023 – Turin 26-29 July

A Pedagogy of the Oppressed and the Obliterated: Examining the Question of Muslim Agency


Kumar Aishwarya - Ambedkar University Delhi, School of Letters, Delhi, India


18 – Deviant Bodies, Prohibited Territories and Academia in South Asia


 The Jamia Millia Islamia university campus sits uniquely between two starkly contrasting spatial typologies, namely, the elite locality of New Friends Colony where some of the richest men and women of the country reside, and the ghettos of Jamia Nagar, the largest Muslim ghetto in the city of Delhi. The university, wedged between the two contrasting landscapes, has been (since its existence) fortified in many ways from the harsh economic and political inequalities that surrounds it, providing accessibility to the Muslim minority across the country to higher education. However in December of 2019, this fortification ended with the Delhi Police breaking into the university gates to capture students protesting against the draconian Citizen Amendment Act, which confirmed an epistemic shift in the recognition of the already marked Muslim body.

The present Nationalist powers and their ideology have reinvented the grammar of Islamophobia, which no longer only antagonises the Muslim body but also de-recognises their right to exist. It, suspiciously, works in a similar logic of untouchability, where the body of the other is “bereft of being”. In face of the threat of obliteration, how does one envision a pedagogy of the oppressed? This paper attempts to examine the many challenges the minority institution faces and rethink the pedagogical practices that produce Muslim agency in the face of the present crisis.