During colonization, British officers like Richard Burton noticed that a number of religious figures were shared by Muslims and Hindus in Sindh. The colonial discourse usually claimed they were Hindu gods who had been “islamized”, as pagan gods had been “christianized” in Europe under the shape of Christian saints. In fact, a thorough study of the making of these shared religious figures unveils a much more intricate process, involving many different actors. Drawn on the perspective of historical anthropology, this paper intends to provide a comprehensive analysis of how these shared figures were reconstructed by different groups of entrepreneurs from colonial to postcolonial times. The argument will be introduced following two main cases studies : Lal Shahbaz Qalandar in Sehwan Sharif and Jhulelal in Uderolal.
Michel Boivin is director of the Centre for South Asian Studies, CNRS-EHESS. He teaches historical anthropology of Muslim societies in Modern South Asia at the Advanced School of Social Sciences (EHESS), Paris Research University, where he is also supervising masters and Phd thesis. He has published several books with OUP Pakistan, including Artefacts of Devotion (OUP, Karachi, 2011), with a foreword by Carl Ernst, and the Historical Dictionary of the Sufi culture of Sindh in Pakistan and in India (OUP, Karachi, second impression 2016).