ANiS in Action: The Science-Van

Johannes Quack

in Disenchanting India

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780199812608
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199919406 | DOI:
ANiS in Action: The Science-Van

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This chapter gives an ethnographic account of how ANiS activists use their science-vans to “disenchant India”, i.e. they conduct programmes at schools, colleges and villages with the aim of “spreading scientific temper” and “eradicating superstition”. After a description of the science-van, the general structure of an ANiS programme is provided, with a special focus on the way in which ANiS activists expose and explain alleged miracles performed by godmen. It also discusses why the rationalists aim to inculcate doubt and a “spirit of inquiry” amongst their fellow Indians. Finally, the chapter analyses the specific perspective taken by ANiS activists on issues such as the existence of ghosts, the reasons for spirit possession, and also addresses the issue of a gendered rationalistic discourse.

Keywords: science-van; disenchantment; superstition; scientific temper; gender; ghost; possession; miracles; godman; spirit of inquiry; doubt

Chapter.  17396 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Hinduism

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