This article analyzes a controversial book ban from the 1940s to trace the mutual determinations of print media, the legal regulation of communal sentiment, and the discourse of religious tolerance in late colonial India. Claimed as the Bible of the Arya Samaj, the Satyarth Prakash (The Light of Truth) was banned in the Muslim-majority province of Sindh because of its defamatory remarks about the Prophet Muhammad. The result was a controversy of national proportions. Through theoretically informed close readings of texts from the controversy, Scott shows how the legal regulation of religious offense altered the economy of textual circulation in South Asia. Colonial law fueled a thriving extralegal legal culture that bureaucratized religious affect. It also reorganized the unbounded social imaginary associated with mass publicity. This allowed controversialists to exploit previously unrealized potentialities of the print medium in order to politicize the Hindu public.

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