Megan Eaton Robb, "Print and the Urdu Public: Muslims, Newspapers, and Urban Life in Colonial India" (Oxford UP, 2020)


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What is the relationship between print culture, religious identity, and formations of social consciousness in the modern period? In her brilliant new book, Print and the Urdu Public: Muslims, Newspapers, and Urban Life (Oxford UP, 2020), Megan Robb explores this question through a vigorous and exciting micro-history of a major 20th-century Urdu newspaper Madinah that was at the center of critical political, theological, and sociological currents in Muslim South Asia. The distinguishing feature of this book lies in its focus on the place and space of the qasbah, or small towns, as fascinating and often overlooked theaters of individual and communal identity formation and contestation. What competing notions of Islam, politics, and time emerge in a marketplace of ideas animated and engine by the technology and materiality of print culture, especially, the newspaper? Robb examines this question through a probing analysis that brings together vivid portraits of social and intellectual life in early 20th-century Northern India, with productive theoretical interventions on conceptualizing the interaction of print, religion, and politics in colonial modernity.

SherAli Tareen is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Franklin and Marshall College. His research focuses on Muslim intellectual traditions and debates in early modern and modern South Asia. His book Defending Muhammad in Modernity (University of Notre Dame Press, 2020) received the American Institute of Pakistan Studies 2020 Book Prize. His other academic publications are available here. He can be reached at Listener feedback is most welcome.

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