Book review: Anupama Roy, Citizenship Regimes, Law, and Belonging: The CAA and the NRC

Published date01 June 2023
AuthorRaeesa Vakil
Date01 June 2023
Subject MatterBook Reviews
Book Reviews 155
skill, the harvest now signified collective solidarity. This represented a crucial shift in village relations as
the harvest now symbolized a more equitable society, with increased respect for labourers and a sense of
shared identity through common work, regardless of class, caste or status. From a larger lens, this resulted
in a more equal society, creating a foundation for collective democratic efforts.
Banerjee observed the increasing spread of an austere and enacting Deobandi Islam, replacing the
older syncretic form in the field site of two Muslim villages. Recently, anthropologists working on the
human–animal interface have shed light on possibilities of love, violence, politics, indifference, desire
and the effect that animals have on our lives. These relations and knots are woven with love and intimacy
while laced with violence. While Radhika Govindrajan (2018) has written about the knots of love and
intimacy involving animal sacrifice, Banerjee notes the sacrificial and redistributive aspect of Qurbani.
The event of animal sacrifice generates certain principles that influence social and political existence.
The Qurbani event showcases the importance of discipline and self-restraint in Islamic beliefs, promoting
generosity, selflessness and sacrificing personal interest for the greater good. Although animal sacrifice
has become contentious in recent times, Banerjee shows with great empathy that religious festivals
encourage citizens to exhibit democratic values by setting aside their quotidian vices and greed and
behaving with generosity. The ritual process around Qurbani nurtures values such as suppressing personal
desires, discipline and working together for the benefit of the community, which are crucial for fostering
democratic citizenship.
Cultivating Democracy is rich in textured detail about the shifts in political power and community
relations in West Bengal. In light of an increase in extremism and undemocratic tendencies across the
party spectrum, this well-researched book contributes significantly to cultivating civic values. This work
is an essential contribution to rural agrarian studies and will be indispensable for anthropologists
interested in understanding democratic societies. Witty and poignant, the book displays that everyday
engagement by ordinary people in cultivating democracy is essential for persevering the republican spirit
among citizens.
Nirvan Pradhan
Nirvan Pradhan
Department of Political Science, School of Social Science
SRM University Sikkim, Gangtok
Anupama Roy, Citizenship Regimes, Law, and Belonging: The CAA and the NRC. India: Oxford University
Press. 2022. 288 pages. `1,495.
DOI: 10.1177/23210230231166188
This book forms a valuable addition to the growing body of scholarship on India’s transitioning
citizenship framework in the last five years. The amendment of India’s Citizenship Act (CAA) in 2019,
to provide opportunities to Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, Jains and Parsis to seek Indian
citizenship after facing religious persecution in neighbouring states, has attracted criticism, specifically
for the deliberate exclusion of Muslims, and has engendered widespread public protests. Simultaneously,

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