Course on “Faith, Pandemic, and Reason: Texts and Contexts” by Maharashtra National Law University Mumbai

About the Course

In both popular and academic thinking, reason and faith appear as absolute binaries. We often see our own age as one inspired and guided by reason and rational order. Our institutions of governance, judiciary, and research advance a spirit of critique and inquiry over adherence to dogma. And yet, as public behavior during the pandemic has shown, the tension between the two is far from settled. In both waves of the pandemic in India, religious gatherings proceeded despite rising infections and protests by healthcare workers, medical experts, and civil society. That said, India of course is no stranger to this tenuous relation between faith and reason. A sizeable body of colonial literature from the country displays, for instance, the mix of horror, fascination, and disgust underlining the western gaze of ‘native’ rituals and pilgrimages despite the spread of infectious, life-threatening diseases. Responses from the emerging Indian intelligentsia ranged likewise from measured support for the western, rational standpoint to outright resistance against attempts of interference in matters of faith.

In this context, it might prove especially interesting to revisit some of these past and current debates and events from the lens of justice, interfaith relations as well as the reason v/s religion binary. The legal system in India today and attendant notions of justice draws heavily from western notions of fairness, rationality, and public order while also translating these into idioms and notions more rooted in Indian contexts. The course uses this as a point of departure to further, explore intercultural encounters, engagements between faiths, and implications of the religion v/s reason debate in public health interventions, especially in times of crises like a pandemic. Readings for the course are cross-disciplinary and cater to multiple interests including literature, cultural studies, philosophy, and law.

About the Facilitators

Abhijit Rohi is an Assistant Professor of Law at MNLU Mumbai. He holds his Master’s from NUJS, Kolkata, and is pursuing his doctoral research from NLSIU Bengaluru. At MNLU Mumbai, he offers courses on Human Rights, Jurisprudence, Media Law
and Privacy Law.

Ashok Chikte is an Assistant Professor of English at MNLU Mumbai. He has published many articles in reputed national and international journals. He has also participated in several national and international conferences and seminars. His interests
range from Creative Writing to Fine Arts and Music. He teaches Law and Literature, Academic Writing, and Bridge Courses in English.

Milind B. Gawai is an Assistant Professor of Law at MNLU Mumbai. He has ten years of experience as an Assistant Professor (Law). He also worked as Research Fellow (Faculty) at National Judicial Academy, Bhopal for more than a year. He offers
courses on Constitutional Law, Administrative Law, CPC, and Affirmative Action.

Omkar Bhatkar is a Sociologist with a doctoral thesis dealing in Proxemics and Social Ecology. His academic interests include Cultural Studies, Phenomenology, Film Theory, Aesthetics and Visual Communication, Gender Studies, Existentialism, and Inter-religious Studies. He is a visiting professor at St. Andrew’s College and SK Somaiya College and the Co-Founder and Head of St. Andrew’s Centre for Philosophy and Performing Arts. He is a Playwright and is the Artistic Director of Metamorphosis Theatre Inc.

Upamanyu Sengupta (Coordinator) teaches English at MNLU Mumbai. His research interests include narrative theory, studies of space and place, hermeneutics, and Anglo-Indian Studies.

Nilanjan Dey (Teaching Assistant) is a fourth-year a student pursuing B.A. LL.B. in MNLU Mumbai. Their research interests include critical theory, anthropology of the state, and queer theory.

Course Outline

20 October 2021: Nature and Scope of the Course
21 October 2021: Faith, Public Health and Human Rights
22 October 2021: Indian Constitution and Scientific Temperament
23 October 2021: Act of Gods and Pandemics: Religio-Historical Narratives
25 October 2021: Imperialism, Disgust, and Fear: Colonial Reports of Indian Public Health
26 October 2021: Indian Responses: Critique and Nationalism
27 October 2021: The Tragedy of Faith
28 October 2021: Public Health, Image, and Text
29 October 2021: Who Heals? Pandemic Goddesses and Inoculations in India
Timings: 5-6pm on 6 days, 5-7pm on 3 days (tentative)

15 [12 compulsory hours + 3 optional hours for writing a response paper

1 [for those completing the full 15-hour course] All participants will be awarded a completion certificate after 12 hours.

Who can Apply

The course is open for all, but primarily aimed at undergraduate students from the humanities and social sciences streams, and also those from other streams with strong interest in cultural, social issues.

Fees and Registration

Course fee (for external participants only): INR 500
Please attach the payment receipt while filling the registration form.

Bank details for payment of registration fee –

Bank: Punjab National Bank
Branch: Powai
Address: B1, Lgl-34 Galleria Hiranandani Grd Powai 400076
Account Name: Maharashtra National Law University Mumbai
Account No. : 8709000100017230
IFSC Code : PUNB0063210
Limited seats!

Register by October 15, 2021: Click Here


For inquiries
Contact: 94322 80612
[email protected]

For brochure click here.


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