Ahmad, Irfan. 2022. “The Oeuvre of Peter van der Veer.” In Irfan Ahmadand Jie Kang (eds). The Nation Form in the Global Age: Ethnographic Perspectives. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Abstract: This chapter critically evaluates the corpus of writings by Peter van der Veer, a Dutch anthropologist described by Dipesh Chakrabarty as ‘one of the foremost scholars in comparative studies of religion, nationalism, and urban life in Asia’. Divided into three parts, in part one I dwell on van der Veer’s work from 1985 to 1994, discussing his contributions to the study of Hinduism, orientalism and nationalism. In part two, I analyse his works during the second phase, that is, from 1995 to the present. Though diverse, I have arranged the analysis of these works under the overarching category of comparison. The final brief section identifies the style and mode of van der Veer’s interventions, the sine qua non of which I call, after Nietzsche, ‘theorization with a hammer’. In the conclusion, I highlight themes and questions that van der Veer’s works do not squarely address but that gainfully work as analytical enablers of future research.
Keywords: Anthropology – China – Comparison – Hinduism – India – Islam – Nation-state- Orientalism