"Kama Maclean provides a nuanced and, at times, revolutionary understanding of what must be regarded as one of the most important periodic gatherings of humanity not just in India, but in the world. As such, she reveals an enormous amount about the modern history of Hinduism. But in the process she shines new light on the social and cultural history of British imperialism and Indian nationalism. Her book is the result of painstaking, careful research; she draws on the insights of a wide range of historians, from C.A. Bayly to Dipesh Chakrabarty, but her voice remains clearly her own." --William R. Pinch, Professor of History, Wesleyan University
"Pilgrimage and Power
explains for the first time how colonial rule created conditions that helped transform a local religious fair in India -- the Kumbh Mela -- into a major event on the national calendar. Maclean combines assiduous archival research and anthropological insights to produce a remarkable analysis of the cultural politics of Indian nationalism both during and after British rule. This is an impressive and significant contribution to South Asian Studies." --Dipesh Chakrabarty, author of Habitations of Modernity: Essays in the Wake of Subaltern Studies
"Carefully researched and engagingly written, Kama Maclean's study of the Kumbh Mela places this fascinating cultural phenomenon in its historical and socio-political contexts, with illuminating results. Like an adept panda
, or pilgrim guide, Dr. Maclean steers readers through the journalistic, promotional, and Orientalist hype that still regularly engulfs the vast duodecennial bathing fair, and then sensitively reveals and interrogates the confluence of actors, agendas, and events that shaped it during the Colonial and post-Independence periods. Through her spadework and insights, the Mela becomes a lens by which such important issues as the interplay of indigenous and foreign interests in the shaping of modern India, its political elite, and a new, more homogenous form of Hinduism, are seen with new clarity." --Philip Lutgendorf, author of Hanuman's Tale: The Messages of a Divine Monkey
About the Author
is Lecturer of South Asian and World History at the University of New South Wales, Australia.