This Unit was established in 1997 with the mission of providing a forum within the AAR for the academic study of Hinduism. The Unit seeks to foster research on all periods, geographies, and registers of Hindu texts and practices through the presentation of critical analysis and interpretative strategies based on textual, sociohistorical, ethnographic, philosophical, theological, and theoretical frameworks. We are particularly interested in forging connections between Hindu studies and other areas of religious studies, and we welcome proposals from scholars in the field that can provide such connections.
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Call for Proposals
The Hinduism Unit invites contributions on the following topics suggested at the 2021 Annual Meeting as well as on other topics consistent with the Unit’s Statement of Purpose. Proposals of complete papers sessions and roundtable sessions are especially welcome, as are proposals that specify creative and efficient uses of the 90-minute and 120-minute sessions that will make up the entirety of the Unit’s programming for the 2022 Annual Meeting. For further information about potential sessions on the topics already suggested, please e-mail the points of contact for each topic listed below:
- New Books Panel
Sohini Pillai, email@example.com
This panel features first monographs in Hindu studies with the aim of both exposing scholars in the field to new theoretical interventions, and of providing concrete ideas about how to incorporate those interventions into scholars’ own pedagogies. Given the range of new books in Hindu studies, preference will be given to first monographs. To nominate a book for consideration (either your own or someone else’s), please fill out this brief survey: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfmIuegUJu8HDGeUTiLhSrdMfW0bYm_...
- Swaminaryan Hinduism
Iva Patel and Andrew Kunze, firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
We are seeking presenters for a multi-disciplinary panel on Swaminarayan Hinduism. The panel will focus on discourses and practices of the tradition, both historically and within contemporary India and the US. We plan to approach the tradition through historical, literary, art historical, and anthropological lenses.
- Translation and Canonicity
Srilata Raman, firstname.lastname@example.org
The canonicity of the textual communities of Hindu religious traditions is constructed not only through original works or through commentaries but also through translation between languages as well as between scriptural traditions. Claims are made about new texts which are considered to be translations of older, divine revelation. Alternatively, there are texts whose readership and influence are broadened at specific historical moments through translation, leading to a reordering of what is canonical. This panel welcomes papers which address any or all of these issues regarding the relationship between texts, translation and canonicity.
- Reading Hindu Classics Anew: Creativity and Critique
Nell Hawley, email@example.com
We might define the classics by their perennial relevance. Globally we are facing the arrival of climate catastrophe and carrying the burdens of deep-rooted social injustice into the twenty-first century. What roles do the Hindu classics play in such a world? Contemporary interpretations of classical Hindu texts deliberately test their tensile strength: Perhaps the classics have helped to bring us where we are—but might they also show us a different path forward? This panel welcomes papers that address contemporary engagements with the Hindu classics, with an open invitation to define what makes a particular text a “classic.” The panel seeks to strike a balance between new scholarly readings of the classics and recent (or in-process) artistic interpretations thereof. Presenters may wish to discuss their own interpretations or the scholarly and artistic interventions of others.
- Religious conversion through auto/biography
Deepra Dandekar, firstname.lastname@example.org
This panel attendees to the ways conversion experiences are predicated on bodies located within and across various subtle, precarious, and unstable micro-hierarchies that produce conversion as a specific auto/biographical experience. This panel, hence, asks methodological questions about the study of religious conversion and the use of individual auto/biographical materials from nineteenth and twentieth century India as resources for the critical, and historical study of a Hinduism in dialog with a religious world outside of itself.
- Hinduism and Disability
Nicole Karapanagiotis, email@example.com
In this panel, we invite papers that critically reflect on discourses of disability within the Hindu traditions. We particularly welcome papers that examine issues of marginalization and stigma as well as papers that reflect on discourses of normalcy and ableism, and the religio-social factors involved in their production.
- Deception and the Hindu traditions
Nicole Karapanagiotis, firstname.lastname@example.org
This panel invites papers that engage with the topic of deception in the Hindu traditions. How is deception theorized within Hindu religious discourses? How do Hindu communities deal with issues of religious lying, fraud, and other forms of deception? How are scholars of Hinduism to critically reflect on instances of religious lying, fraud or deception in the fields they study? What theoretical frameworks are best employed?
- Hinduism and Climate
Vijaya Nagarajan, email@example.com
This panel wishes to explore the many interlinkages between Hinduism as a field of study and the current climate chaos. Are there worldviews from within the long history of what we have come to understand as Hinduism that could be repurposed to help conceptualize, reframe, resolve, and solve the current carbon dilemmas in the atmosphere and elsewhere? Are there understandings that could serve to do the opposite—to accelerate and worsen the current climate crisis? How do Hindu notions of caste, race, sexuality, gender, and the natural world influence multiple rivers of contemporary Hindu communities’ responses to the collapsing environment in India and elsewhere? Hoping to bridge the phenomenon of melting Himalayan glaciers, and the increasing floods and drought throughout India and the world, this panel wishes to illuminate possible bridges between various research areas of Hinduism and the increasingly chaotic warming world.
- Critical Hindu Studies
Harshita Mruthinti Kamath, firstname.lastname@example.org
This panel brings together scholars who engage the work of queer, critical race, and/or feminist theories to interrogate the structures of knowledge and power in the construction of the field of Hindu studies. Drawing on the recent work of the Feminist Critical Hindu Studies (FCHS) Collective, we invite papers that employ a FCHS approach to examine critically the formation of the field of Hindu studies with attention to white supremacy, caste supremacy, and Hindu nationalism while also interrogating our own positionality in the formation of the field. Papers can critically examine the formation of Hindu studies more broadly or employ a critical lens to examine a particular case study in relation to a specific area of research within Hindu studies.
- The Sanskrit Dilemma
Varun Khanna, email@example.com
This panel seeks to understand what it means to be a scholar of Sanskrit when Sanskrit is often used to fortify and reproduce configurations of Brahminical power. How can Sanskrit be used to challenge or subvert that power? What is the scope for Sanskrit scholarship to challenge caste, patriarchy, and Hindu nationalism? Can Sanskrit be separated from Brahminism? What would such a Sanskrit look like? Can there be a “Critical Sanskrit Studies”?
- Hinduism and popular literature and/or new media
Deepra Dandekar, firstname.lastname@example.org
Comics, graphic novels, and animated films in India have played a fundamental role in shaping the popular imagination of culture, religion, and history. Not only do these produce diverse imaginations consisting of a myriad human, non/ semi human, demonic and celestial forms, they also reframe global religion on cultural, vernacular terms. Infusing this imagined, diverse global world with ethnic and gendered hierarchies and moralities from India, comics, graphic novels, and animated films are central to postcolonial identity formation and its associated pedagogy based on an aesthetics that locates Indian heritage on the world stage. This panel invites contributors who may find it interesting to analyze the role of graphic novels in the self-fashioning of global Indian citizens, Indian heritage, and postcolonial identity.
- Film Cast(e)
Srilata Raman (email@example.com) and Prea Persaud (firstname.lastname@example.org)
This panel seeks papers that examine portrayals of caste in popular films and TV shows in terms of their subject, cast, and reception. We are particularly interested in papers that analyze recent films, including but not limited to Pariyerum Perumal, Asuran, Article 15, Geeli Pucchi, and Jai Bhim. We are also interested in papers that investigate the ways in which caste makes an appearance and is casted in particular ways in TV shows such as Never Have I Ever or Indian Matchmaking.
Statement of Purpose
Steering Committee Members
Emilia Bachrach, Oberlin College and Conservatory1/1/2020 - 12/31/2025
Deepra Dandekar, Free University of Berlin1/1/2020 - 12/31/2025
Ute Huesken, Heidelberg University1/1/2021 - 12/31/2026
Nicole Karapanagiotis, Rutgers University, Camden1/1/2019 - 12/31/2024
Manpreet Kaur, Columbia University1/1/2020 - 12/31/2025
John Nemec, University of Virginia1/1/2021 - 12/31/2026
Sohini Pillai, Kalamazoo College1/1/2021 - 12/31/2026
Srilata Raman, University of Toronto1/1/2021 - 12/31/2026