"Slandering the Sacred: Blasphemy Law and Religious Affect in Colonial India" Book Launch

When and Where

Friday, November 24, 2023 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm
208N, North House
1 Devonshire Place


J. Barton Scott


About the Book:

Biography courtesy of the University of Chicago Press

A history of global secularism and political feeling through colonial blasphemy law.

Why is religion today so often associated with giving and taking offense? To answer this question, Slandering the Sacred invites us to consider how colonial infrastructures shaped our globalized world. Through the origin and afterlives of a 1927 British imperial law (Section 295A of the Indian Penal Code), J. Barton Scott weaves a globe-trotting narrative about secularism, empire, insult, and outrage. Decentering white martyrs to free thought, his story calls for new histories of blasphemy that return these thinkers to their imperial context, dismantle the cultural boundaries of the West, and transgress the borders between the secular and the sacred as well as the public and the private.

About the Author:

J. BARTON SCOTT works on the intellectual and cultural history of religion in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, with a focus on South Asia and its global connections. He teaches courses on social and cultural theory, media and material religion, and religion in political thought.

Sponsor: Centre for South Asian Studies, Asian Institute
Co-Sponsor: Centre for South Asian Critical Humanities, University of Toronto, Mississauga

Contact Information


Asian Institute


1 Devonshire Place