In Amma's Healing Room: Gender and Vernacular Islam in South India

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Overview

"[I]t is extremely salubrious to see the ways Islam works in the lives of ordinary people who are not politicized in their religious lives.... No other book on South Asia has material like this." —Ann Grodzins Gold

In Amma’s Healing Room is a compelling study of the life and thought of a female Muslim spiritual healer in Hyderabad, South India. Joyce Burkhalter Flueckiger describes Amma’s practice as a form of vernacular Islam arising in a particular locality, one in which the boundaries between Islam, Hinduism, and Christianity are fluid. In the "healing room," Amma meets a diverse clientele that includes men and women, Muslim, Hindu, and Christian, of varied social backgrounds, who bring a wide range of physical, social, and psychological afflictions. Flueckiger collaborated closely with Amma and relates to her at different moments as daughter, disciple, and researcher. The result is a work of insight and compassion that challenges widely held views of religion and gender in India and reveals the creativity of a tradition often portrayed by Muslims and non-Muslims alike as singular and monolithic.

Indiana University Press

Winner, 2007 Georgia Author of the Year award, nonfiction/biography category

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Editorial Reviews

Choice
"This informative study is well illustrated with the author's photographs and immensely suitable for undergraduate and graduate students.... Highly recommended." —Choice
Anthropological Quarterly
"... This is a timely ethnography... in a time in which the high volume of negative religious rhetoric about Islam and in the name of Islam, Hinduism, and Christianity have subsumed the centrality of love in religious teachings and rituals." —Anthropological Quarterly
Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute
"... In Amma’s Healing Room is a well-written ethnographic study of a complex and sensitive domain of Muslim religious experience and, as such, is a very welcome addition not only to the expanding body of anthropological work on Islam as a world religion. It broadens the anthropological understanding of the various forms taken by Islamic religious authority and offers new insights into the vitality and diversity of Muslim ritual practices in South Asia." —Magnus Marsden, School of Oriental and African Studies, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, Vol.15. 1 March 2009

— Magnus Marsden, School of Oriental and African Studies

History of Religions
"Only rarely are books powerful enough to capture the imaginations and emotions of our students: this is one such book." —Susan Snow Wadley, Syracuse University, History of Religions, Vol. 48.1 May 2009

— Susan Snow Wadley, Syracuse University

The Journal of Religion
"In Amma's Healing Room is a terrific book. Well structured and well written, it will be a great addition to courses on religious ethnography, popular and contemporary Islam, South Asian religions, ritual studies, and gender studies." —the Journal of Religion, 88.2, April 2008
South Asia Research
"This book is a compelling ethnographic study... Flueckiger's work goes a long way towards shattering the categories and fixed identities commonly associated with South Asia.... The emphasis on gender makes this work even more invaluable for anyone trying to study religion in South Asia, or indeed, Islam, as a lived experience." —South Asia Research, V.29.2 July 2009
From the Publisher
"[I]t is extremely salubrious to see the ways Islam works in the lives of ordinary people who are not politicized in their religious lives.... No other book on South Asia has material like this." —Ann Grodzins Gold

Indiana University Press

Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute - Magnus Marsden
... [H]er book, like all ethnographies, should also be read between the lines—Flueckiger was concerned that by publishing her material she would bring public attention to forms of Islam criticized by other Muslims; she also analyses very sensitive dimensions of Amma’s role as a healer—notably the part she plays in Hindu-Muslim conversion processes.
All in all, In Amma’s Healing Room is a well-written ethnographic study of a complex and sensitive domain of Muslim religious experience and, as such, is a very welcome addition not only to the expanding body of anthropological work on Islam as a world religion. It broadens the anthropological understanding of the various forms taken by Islamic religious authority and offers new insights into the vitality and diversity of Muslim ritual practices in South Asia.Magnus Marsden, School of Oriental and African Studies, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, March 2009
History of Religions - Susan Snow Wadley
"Only rarely are books powerful enough to capture the imaginations and emotions of our students: this is one such book." —Susan Snow Wadley, Syracuse University, History of Religions, Vol. 48.1 May 2009
the Journal of Religion
"In Amma's Healing Room is a terrific book. Well structured and well written, it will be a great addition to courses on religious ethnography, popular and contemporary Islam, South Asian religions, ritual studies, and gender studies." —the Journal of Religion, 88.2, April 2008
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780253347213
  • Publisher: Indiana University Press
  • Publication date: 4/28/2006
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.50 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Joyce Burkhalter Flueckiger is Professor of Religion at Emory University and author of Gender and Genre in the Folklore of Middle India.

Indiana University Press

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Table of Contents

Preface
Acknowledgments
A Note on Transliteration

Introduction: Called to Amma's Courtyard
1. Setting the Stage: The Healing Room, Its Actors, and Its Rhythms
2. The Healing System
3. Patient Narratives in the Healing Room
4. Negotiating Gender in the Healing Room
5. Religious Identities at the Crossroads
6. Immersed in Remembrance and Song: Religious Identities, Authority, and Gender at the Sam?
Conclusion: Vernacular Islam Embedded in Relationships
Epilogue

Appendix: Death and Difference: A Conversation
Glossary
Notes
Select Bibliography
Index

Indiana University Press

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