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Hinduism Unit

Call for Proposals for November Meeting

The Hinduism Unit invites contributions on the following topics suggested at the 2023 Annual Meeting as well as on other topics consistent with the Unit’s Statement of Purpose. Proposals of complete paper 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 2024 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 in Hindu Studies

Contact: Jamal Jones (

Description: 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 email Jamal Jones (


Telling and Selling: The Contemporary Popular Literature of Hinduism (Co-sponsored with the Religion and Popular Culture Unit)

Contact: Nell Hawley ( and Tracy Pintchman ( Description: Walk into an airport bookstore in South Asia or North America and you'll find the narrative worlds of Hinduism packaged between the covers of paperback after paperback. This panel asks: How are Hindu stories currently being told in popular literature? How are they being sold to mass-market readers? How do present-day patterns of "telling and selling" shift to accommodate different languages, genres, and imagined readers? We welcome papers that address the presentation of Hindu myths, narratives, figures, and ideas in contemporary popular literature produced in various regions, languages (including English), and genres (adult, YA series, children's books, comics, etc.).


A Cultural History of Hinduism

A Cultural History of Hinduism is a six-volume study of Hinduism engaging 55 scholars from our field that will be published by Bloomsbury Academic in April 2024 (it is in press now). For a description please see hinduism-9781350024434

Contact: Karen Pechilis (

Description: This roundtable panel brings together a group of volume editors, contributors, and critics to discuss strategies and challenges in writing today about Hinduism in its multireligious contexts past and present. Any academic in the field not involved in the CHH project who would like to serve as critic (who may focus on a specific area rather than the entire series).


Fieldwork Entanglements in Today’s India

Contact: Emilia Bachrach (

Description: This roundtable panel invites ethnographers (and those working with related methodologies) working in India (but also in relationship to India, based elsewhere, including in the US) to reflect on recent shifts they have experienced in the research process, especially vis-a-vis increased efforts by the BJP government (namely, since 2014) to quiet voices in (seeming) opposition to Hindu Nationalist narratives about India's history and religious landscapes. Questions we invite potential panelists to consider include, but are not limited to, how ethnographers' social positions (e.g., perceived caste, race, national, and gender identities) have been received differently in recent years by interlocutors (and/or state officials involved in granting visas and research permissions) and how researchers have had to rethink methodologies in order to protect themselves, but also their conservation partners, particularly those in marginalized social positions. Roundtable contributors will have an option to have their papers/comments presented anonymously by Hinduism Unit committee members or others.


Outside the Epics: Retelling Hindu Narratives

Contact: Sohini Pillai (

Description: In the past thirty-five years, there have been a plethora of scholarly studies of retellings of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata epic narrative traditions. But what about retellings of Hindu stories other than the Ramayana and the Mahabharata such as the puranas or hagiographies of devotional poets? This panel aims to explore both premodern and modern retellings of Hindu narratives in a range of different languages and genres (including literature, film, and television).


Hinduism Beyond South Asia and North America

Contact: Aarti Patel (

Description: Whether from legacies of indentured servitude or large-scale migration patterns, Hindu diasporas have taken root all over the world. Scholars have explored how Hindus living outside South Asia, particularly in North America, simultaneously maintain and adapt their traditions and practices through community formation and temple-building. But this balancing act of maintenance and adaptation may look different in varying geographic and historical contexts. This panel invites papers that explore Hinduism or Hindu traditions in the diasporas beyond North America.

Topics might include:

  • Pilgrimage
  • Festivals
  • Use(s) of technology
  • Languages
  • Community


Where is South Asia? Religion, Margins, and Migration

Contact: Gaurika Mehta (

Description: For this roundtable, we hope to bring together scholars of South Asian diasporic religions to explore the following questions: Where is South Asia? What and who counts as South Asian (and what happens to stories and groups that don’t “count”)? How do questions of geography, and centers and margins, shape the study of South Asian diaspora religions? What does the study of South Asian diasporas reveal about religion, caste, race, and/or gender? How do religious ideas and politics travel (in both directions) between the South Asian subcontinent and its global diasporic edges?


Hinduism and Ecology

Contact: Katie Chandler ( and Vijaya Nagarajan (

Description: This panel wishes to illuminate possible bridges between various research areas of Hinduism and a rapidly changing global environment. We would consider questions such as: how do religious landscapes change? How do individuals and/or communities transform religious landscapes? How do religious landscapes in turn transform people? In what ways might a changing environment impact religious structures and practices? Exploring the diverse range of topics related to religion and ecology in Hinduism, this panel seeks to explore the intimate relationships between religiosity and landscapes, and how a changing landscape and climate impacts religious practices.


Religion, South Asians, and the 2024 Elections (potential cosponsors Hinduism, SARI, North American Hinduism)

Contact: Prea Persaud ( or Shana Sippy (

Description: In both India and the US, 2024 promises to be a critical year for elections. It remains to be seen whether both the ruling BJP party and the Democratic Biden/Harris ticket will remain in power. No matter what happens, it is clear that religion will play a crucial role in setting the tone and the stakes of the various issues, agendas, and debates that occur among the vying parties. In the US, with two prominent South Asian Republican candidates for President—Vivek Ramaswamy and Nikki Haley— running for office, as well as Vice President Kamala Harris, we are seeing discourses about South Asian religion and identity take new forms. And, in India, Hindutva rhetoric and marginalization of religious minorities means that religion remains a core concern for anyone thinking about India’s future. This panel seeks to explore how various players and parties are mobilizing religion in the 2024 elections, examining various contexts and iterations in the US and India.


The Position of Dharmasástra in Hinduism

Contact: Sreedhar Chintalapaty, (

Description: Understanding the dharmaśāstra's remit is an essential prerequisite to correctly interpreting its contents. The widely prevalent misconception, even among academia, that its remit includes all Hindus has led to confusion and undeserved vilification of Hinduism, as vividly illustrated by the now annual ritual of Manusmṛti Dahana. In this Roundtable/Paper Session, we will examine what the Dharmasástra says about its own position within Hinduism, analyze some of its aspects in this light to evaluate if it is indeed culpable for the social ills laid at its door, and consider its relevance to addressing modern social challenges.


Lived experiences of Hindus

Contact: Sriram Subramanian (

Description: What are the lived experiences of a Hindu - rituals, beliefs, prayers, traditions, philosophy, and more? This panel highlights the diverse aspects of lived experiences of being a Hindu from a first-person perspective and brings out the continuity among seemingly different aspects of Hinduism.

Statement of Purpose

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.


Steering Committee Members



Review Process

Proposer names are visible to chairs but anonymous to steering committee members