Beyond cultural intimacy

The tensions that make truth for India's Ahmadi Muslims

by Nicholas H. A. Evans

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How should anthropologists write about the public self-presentation of minority groups? In the Indian town of Qadian, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community—a marginal group with a long history of persecution in South Asia—uses visual media to counter hostility and produce images of its members as exemplary Muslims. That such images are artificially produced is an intimate secret shared by the town's residents. Understanding this secret without undermining the political struggle that Ahmadi Muslims are engaged in means moving beyond the idea that truth must be located in either the everyday or the public. For Ahmadis in Qadian, the disjuncture between these realms is a space of possibility that reveals truth. [cultural intimacy, visual media, exemplarity, self-representation, Ahmadiyya, Islam, India]

The White Minaret of Qadian, India. This is a symbol of the global Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, and a sign of the coming of the Messiah. Behind it is a Hindu temple. December 2010.
The White Minaret of Qadian, India. This is a symbol of the global Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, and a sign of the coming of the Messiah. Behind it is a Hindu temple. December 2010. ()