Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Bengal Renaissance

Here is a quick review to point to some bonus material to an Open University Course that comes in a podcast. This is a paid history course that quite generally studies the issue of religious tolerance by looking historically at religious co-existence, religious conversions and obviously conflict. Hence the title: Religion in history: conflict, conversion and co-existence.

From what I can see as one that has not signed up to the study, the course is heavily centered on Europe and besides Christianity, touches on Judaism and Islam. The same is true for the free podcast that comes along with it and can be had on iTunesU. It contains five chapters four of which also concentrate on Christian and European subjects. (feed)

My attention was drawn by the last though: a conversation about the Bengal renaissance in the nineteenth century. We learn about a cultural flowering in this region which today is partly within India and the rest in Bangladesh and which contains Hindu and Muslim communities coexisting. The renaissance as discussed is examined in the light of this co-existence and the question is asked whether this was a Hindu cultural development or a Bengali one that gave room for the Muslims as well. The podcast wants to claim that it is a broad Bengali occurrence, but already the question suggests how this is contentious.
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