Global Politics & Cultures (formerly Independent Thought & Freedom)
Episode 78

50: Christine Fair | Aggressive Buddhism, Kachin "Bride" Trafficking, "Love Jihad" and Other Overlooked South Asian Issues

Kirk Meighoo published on

The Indian subcontinent, or South Asia, includes  Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan and Maldives.

It contains one quarter of the world's population, a centre of global GDP, 2 antagonistic nuclear armed powers, and has been central to world history and the world economy for most of human history.

Yet to much of the world it remains an Area of Darkness.

There is a lively intellectual tradition in the subcontinent, and it is a place of endless, continuing debate and discussion: religious, political, philosophical, artistic, and more.

On this podcast it is an area which we have discussed several times, from various insider perspectives.

Today, we explore the region from an outsider position, but a very knowledgeable and distinguished one that is sure to shed light from a different angle.

My guest today is Dr. Christine Fair, a Provost's Associate Professor within the Security Studies Program within Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service. She works on the political military affairs of Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Her most recent book is titled "In Their Own Words: Understanding the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba" (Oxford University Press, 2019).

We discuss:

- her "Cuisines of the Axis of Evil" cookbook 
- what the food of the Indian subcontinent reveals about history, globalisation, borders, male and female labour, gender relations, religion, taboos, caste, class, etc.
- how geography has determined Afghanistan's politics, international relations, and history, as well as Pakistan
- why India is morea accurately seen like Europe -- a continent with entirely different countries, peoples, and cultures, though connected -- rather than as a single country with regional variations
- the importance of "Layla" on Netflix in understanding varna and caste
- the horrendous trafficking of girls from Myanmar to China because of the lack of women there
- aggressive Buddhism in Sri Lanka and Myanmar
- the social and political changes in Islamic dress in the region
- the parallels between the sexual demonisation of Islamic men in South Asia and black men in America
- the recurring themes of nationalism and the purity of women
- The Khalistan idea in the Sikh Diaspora vs. in India
- exploring the emergence of the beard fashion in the United States during the era of the "war on terror" and its possible relation to Islam
- the history of the fragmentation of the Indian subcontinent, and the controversy over the role of the British and the United States
- what the British really thought of Ali Mohammed Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan
- the US view of the South Asian region, especially Pakistan vs. India, also US vs. China
- The total illegitimacy of Pakistan's claims on Kashmir
- the curiosity of Muslims' defense of Article 370 as something that protected them, when it was actually meant to protect Hindus



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