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Total Atheism: Secular Activism and the Politics of Difference in South India

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Volume 38

Methodology & History in Anthropology

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Total Atheism

Secular Activism and the Politics of Difference in South India

Stefan Binder

290 pages, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78920-674-6 $149.00/£110.00 / Hb / Published (April 2020)

eISBN 978-1-78920-675-3 eBook

View CartYour country: - edit Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format)Recommend to your LibraryAvailable in GOBI®


“This is a very useful and innovative study on a little-known, but important facet of Indian social and political activism…The endeavour of questioning the naturalisation of secularism and secularity so often undertaken in anthropological scholarship is eminently laudable. The study opens up further research questions and lanes of comparison which it would be worthwhile to follow up.” • Anthropos

“This is an absolutely wonderful work of ethnography. Binder’s captivating and conceptually brilliant book sets the standard for future work on the anthropology of non-religion.” • Jacob Copeman, coauthor of Hematologies: The Political Life of Blood in India.


Exploring lived atheism in the South Indian states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, this book offers a unique insight into India’s rapidly transforming multi-religious society. It explores the social, cultural, and aesthetic challenges faced by a movement of secular activists in their endeavors to establish atheism as a practical and comprehensive way of life. On the basis of original ethnographic material and engaged conceptual analysis, Total Atheism develops an alternative to Eurocentric accounts of secularity and critically revisits central themes of South Asian scholarship from the hitherto marginalized vantage point of radically secular and explicitly irreligious atheists in India.

Stefan Binder is senior lecturer and researcher at the Department of Social Anthropology and Cultural Studies (ISEK) at University of Zurich (UZH). He was a postdoctoral fellow at the Centre for Modern Indian Studies (CeMIS) at University of Göttingen and holds a Ph.D. degree from Utrecht University (Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies).

Subject: Anthropology of ReligionAnthropology (General)
Area: Asia


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