The Passage of Ideas From Trumpp to Bhai Vir Singh: Indology, Native Informancy and the Politics of Translation

Author: Arvind-Pal Singh Mandair

Link: “The Passage of Ideas From Trumpp to Bhai Vir Singh: Indology, Native Informancy and the Politics of Translation”, Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, June 2005: 253-274

About: Steering between opposing explanations of religion as either sui generis or sociological construction, this paper argues for an alternative way of conceptualizing the phenomenon called ‘Sikh theology’. normally attributed to the interior religious experience of the founder of Sikhism, ‘Sikh theology’, it will be argued, can more usefully be envisaged as the product of a discursive regime, a regime of colonial translation, which effectively demarcated the conceptual framework of modern Sikhism. this regime of translation contains an ideology about religion that made translators such as Ernest Trumpp imagine the work of translation as providing a remedy for a scripture perceived as lacking conceptual coherence, or in the case of Trumpp’s non-Sikh protagonist m.a. Macauliffe, as based on a ‘dialogical interaction’ with Sikh native informants. the paper’s main focus is to show how key theological concepts passed from Trumpp to Macauliffe, and were inadvertently imbibed by writers of the exegetical commentaries on scripture such as Bha-i- vi-r Singh, even as they were contesting Trumpp’s odium theologicum.

Contact

Arvind-Pal S. Mandair
Associate Professor of Sikh Studies

Philosophy/Religion/Postcolonial Theory/Sikh Studies/South Asian Studies

Email: amandair@umich.edu
Phone: 734.763.6307
Office: 202 South Thayer Street
Office 6155
Ann Arbor, MI 48104-1608

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