This book brings ethnographies of everyday power and ritual into dialogue with intellectual studies of theology and political theory. It underscores the importance of academic collaboration between scholars of religion, anthropology, and history in uncovering the structures of thinking and action that make politics work. The volume weaves important discussions around sovereignty in modern South Asian history with debates elsewhere on the world map.

South Asia’s colonial history – especially India’s twentieth-century emergence as the world’s largest democracy – has made the subcontinent a critical arena for thinking about how transformations and continuities in conceptions of sovereignty provide a vital frame for tracking shifts in political order. The chapters deal with themes such as sovereignty, kingship, democracy, governance, reason, people, nation, colonialism, rule of law, courts, autonomy, and authority, especially within the context of India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan.

The book will be of great interest to scholars and researchers in politics, ideology, religion, sociology, history, and political culture, as well as the informed reader interested in South Asian studies.

chapter |34 pages


South Asian sovereignty: the conundrum of worldly power
ByDavid Gilmartin

part Part I|71 pages

Law, religion, and sovereignty in India

chapter 1|21 pages

Sovereign Struggles

Governance and mathas under British imperial rule in South India
ByPamela Price

chapter 2|20 pages

The Guru as Legislator

Religious leadership and informal legal space in rural South India
ByAya Ikegame

chapter 3|28 pages

Time and the Sovereignty of the People

ByDavid Gilmartin

part Part II|65 pages

Kingship reconfigured

chapter 4|27 pages

Deities, Alliances, and the Power over Life and Death

Exploring royal sovereignty and its tenacity in a former princely state in Odisha
ByUwe Skoda

chapter 6|22 pages

Circuits of Protection and Extortion

Sovereignty in a provincial North Indian town
ByLucia Michelutti

part Part III|43 pages

The nation and the sovereign imagination

chapter 7|21 pages

Messianism and the Constitution of Pakistan

ByA. Azfar Moin

chapter 8|20 pages

Sovereign Sensibilities

Gunday and the nation as the self
ByArild Engelsen Ruud

chapter |11 pages


We have other ideas
ByJonathan Spencer