The political sentiment represented by the WSF celebrates diversity, and cultivates a substrate where movements can be incubated, and prosper. This paper questions a particular secular(ist) vocabulary, grammar, and culture of politics exhibited at the WSF in Bombay. It asks whether the political space of the Forum, which is defined as open, democratic, and tolerant, must necessarily be a secular one, or whether a secularistic political affect closes potentialities by narrowing the possibilities for anti-imperial critiques, thus excluding valid forms of dissent? The paper will argue that a secularistic culture of politics can be an impediment for an emerging and growing revolutionary phenomenon because of its exclusionary and limiting tendencies. Building on a critique of affective politics, it will be shown that the imperative of a politics of resistance free from religious sentiments will both fail to address the needs of vast majorities of the planet’s inhabitants and continue to provide opportunities for more fundamental and violent alternatives to flourish. Drawing from the work of Connolly, Deleuze and Guattari, as well as Ramadan, this paper critiques the privileged space allotted to secularism, and invites discussion about how to provide scope for the possibility of a political ethic which does not alienate believers, instead creating the potential for new models of political pluralism.

Bio note

Anila Daulatzai has been involved in various political and community actions for over two decades. She has done research on reproductive health among Afghan refugees and internally displaced persons in camps in Pakistan and Afghanistan between 1995-2001. Her research interests include health, economic vulnerability, and social suffering in Afghanistan and among Afghan refugees. She holds Masters degrees in public health and Islamic studies from the University of California, Los Angeles, and is currently pursuing a PhD in anthropology at the Johns Hopkins University. E-mail : anila@jhu.edu

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