Date of Award


First Advisor

Asma Abbas

Second Advisor

Katie Boswell


During the colonial period in India between the years of 1858 and 1924, foreshadowing the independence and partition of the Indian subcontinent in 1947, not one, but three nations were being formed: the Hindu nation, the Indian-Muslim nation, and the Indian nation. These nations, though they were represented politically in the forms of institutions like the Arya Samaj, were being constructed by and for the "everyday" Indian; these nations were felt and enacted throughout Indian society. The period after the 1857 failed revolt against British colonial rule saw the Hindus and Muslims become increasingly tied in an oppositional logic, reaching its culmination in the notion that these two groups were constituted by essentially different people that must be separately represented and contained. I explore some of the causes of this eventuality in this thesis. Most of all, though, I am interested in how these constructs were partially created within and reinforced by the social formations of organized religion, especially the instituted variants on religious education. Since these institutions interact with a large majority of the populations of which they are a part, they help to explain how ideas are translated from a single leader or ideologue into a popular mindset.