You are here

North American Hinduism Unit

Call for Proposals for November Meeting

While we accept paper proposals, we strongly encourage full panel (paper or roundtable) proposals with a coherent theme. In addition to the CFPs below, we welcome other full panel proposals. If you have any additional questions, please feel free to contact Rupa Pillai ( or Dheepa Sundaram ( We encourage people to contact the Chairs advance of submitting proposals if you have any questions or need assistance. We also welcome the possibility of co-sponsored sessions.


"Emerging Voices" panel session—Contact: Rupa Pillai ( or Dheepa Sundaram (      

We invite outstanding emerging scholars of North American and Diaspora Hinduism to present their work at a paper session at the forthcoming AAR. The primary goal of the “Emerging Voices Roundtable” is to showcase the work of emerging scholars and to create space for emerging voices (in terms of sexuality, gender, or race) through their intersections with North American Hinduism. We aim to learn from these new scholars not only in terms of the content of their research but also to provide a national platform for career development and networking. Panelists will also be paired with a more senior scholar to mentor them in advance of the AAR. If you are PhD student or recent graduate and working on a topic related to North American Hinduism, please reach out to Dheepa Sundaram or Rupa Pillai for more information on this panel.


Hinduphobia in North American Contexts—Contact: Salaja Krishnamurti (

The recent emergence of the term “Hinduphobia” in social media and public policy has gone largely unnoticed by mainstream Western society. It is a term that appears to function as part of a spectrum of well-established terms for structural forms of racism linked to historical material practices of discrimination such as Islamophobia, anti-Black racism, and anti-semitism. However, while there certainly are many hypothetical and real examples of discrimination against Hindus by virtue of their religion in parts of the world, the attempt to include “Hinduphobia” into the lexicon of terminology arguably masks the much more immediate political and social reality that the claim silences legitimate criticism of India. In this roundtable discussion, panelists will explore several core questions and case studies involving Hinduphobia and its impact in North American, Hindu diasporic, and Indian contexts.


Where is South Asia? Religion, Margins, and Migration—Contact: Gaurika Mehta (

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? How have recent interventionist tactics (i.e. assassinations on foreign soil, cancellations of visas, intervention in foreign elections and wars) by the Indian government extended the reach of South Asia in new and troubling ways?


Religion and 2024 Elections / South Asians and the 2024 Elections (potential cosponsors Hinduism and SARI)

Contact: Prea Persaud ( or Shana Sippy (

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.


Who Speaks for Diasporic Hinduism?—Contact: Prea Persaud (

The study of diasporic Hinduism has been dominated by a geographical focus of North America. What would our discussion and theories about Hinduism look like if we focused on other communities such as the Caribbean (more than just Trinidad and Guyana!), South Africa, Malaysia, Suriname, Mauritius, Fiji, Bali, Thailand, etc. Whose voices have dominated the field and what does that tell us about the construction of the field itself? Attention has been rightly focused on growing Hindu nationalism but where might there also be active resistance to this growth?


South Asian Religions at the Border—Contact: Aarti Patel (

According to data, the number of Indian-origin migrants (96,917) who were detained, denied entry, or expelled from the US between October 2022-September 2023 increased five-fold in three years, since 2020. Although prevalent images paint all South Asian immigrants to the US as socio-economically privileged model minorities, this does not reflect the whole picture. Indeed, as scholars of South Asian religion, this reality is something to which we must attend. As always, when people migrate, religion is one of the many things they carry with them. We seek to assemble a panel of scholars to present papers that explore the challenges that South Asians are facing at the border and beyond and the role that religion seems to play in their responses to migration.




Con-spirituality, Orientalism and Fascism, Yogis, Cottage Industry Gurus—Contact: Shreena Gandhi (

The BJP and Hindus in the US have been making a concerted effort over the last 20 years to tie the practice of yoga exclusively to Hinduism. Concurrently, these two overlapping but distinct groups are also engaging in Islamophobic and casteist rhetoric, politics and actions that are bringing the fascist goals of Hindutva closer to fruition. Given this, what are the connections between the seemingly innocuous claims of cottage industry gurus, yogis and Hindus “simply wanting to reclaim their religion or decolonize their religion,” and the violence of fascism?


Financial and Litigious History of Hindu Orgs. in North America—Contact: Dheepa Sundaram (

This panel session explores how Hindu organizations have sought to shape how Hinduism is articulated, taught, and understood within North America. We seek papers that explore the history of Hindu organizations and Hindu organizing in North America, how Hindu organizations have leveraged legal frameworks, the political engagement of Hindu organizations, the relationship between Hindu organizations and media figures and outlets, Hindu organizations and donor relationships, history of Hindu organization fundraising tactics, and other related topics.

Statement of Purpose


This Unit was established in 2006 for the purpose of drawing greater scholarly attention to Hinduisms outside of South Asia. Though it will focus on North America, the Unit also welcomes relevant research on Hinduisms in other non-Indian contexts. The Unit has three main goals: • To study and describe Hinduisms in North America and related diaspora contexts • To develop a more sophisticated understanding of what distinguishes these Hinduisms from those in South Asia • To nurture thoughtful debate on the methodologies unique to and appropriate for their study.

Call for Proposals:

The Steering Committee composes the Call for Proposals for NAH sessions for the AAR Annual Meeting; Steering Committee chairs facilitate proposals for the emerging scholars panel, all other proposals in the CFP are overseen by a point person, Steering Committee reviews, shapes and accepts proposals for submitted sessions; reviews and reports on sessions; and communicates with the NAH constituency.


The Steering Committee is made up of 7 members, two of whom are elected or determined by consensus by the steering committee to serve as co-chairs. A Steering Committee term is three years, renewable for a second three years if everyone is amenable. The terms are staggered, so that there are continuity and change on the committee. During a total of six possible years, a member might serve a co-chair term, which is three years. A member elected to serve as co-chair has at least one full year’s experience on the Steering Committee. The co-chair elections are staggered as well, so that each new co-chair serves with an experienced co-chair.


The co-chairs are responsible for conducting the business meeting of NAH, completing the post-AAR Annual Meeting survey, initiating review of proposals, working with steering committee members and submitters to put together sessions, and moderate communication of the Steering Committee. All members of the Steering Committee make decisions on substantive matters. All attend the Annual Meeting. All attend the NAH Business Meeting.

Members of the Steering Committee are replaced by the following procedure: when there is a vacancy, after the Annual Meeting the co-chairs ask the NAH constituency for nominations. From among the nominees, the Steering Committee votes to elect a new member.


Steering Committee Members



Review Process

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

Review Process Comments

NAH is committed to diverse, inclusive sessions that reflect a broad range of viewpoints, identities, and positionalities. We seek full panel, roundtable, and workshop sessions that reflect diversity of gender, race, ethnicity, caste, ability, rank, institution, methods, field, and region. Pre-arranged panels should reflect gender, caste, and racial/ethnic diversity as well as diversity of field, method, and scholarly rank as appropriate. • To diversity session presenters’ composition, we combine anonymous review with other review practices, such as making proposer names visible to chairs but anonymous to steering committee members. Co-chairs also work with potential session proposers to assist them creating sessions that reflect diversity of the field and are inclusive in their approach to proposed panelists. • Assign presiders and respondents with an eye to diversity and bridges with new constituencies. • Co-Chairs will try to put together an "Emerging Scholars in North American Hinduism" which will include a mentor from the steering committee, a chance to workshop their paper with this mentor, and an opportunity to present new research for feedback. We see this panel as establishing our commitment to supporting early career scholars in the field and providing a space for this research at the Annual Meeting. • All session reviews are conducted by the co-chairs and steering committee with an eye towards representation of diverse voices with attention to providing a platform for marginalized and minoritized groups within the Academy at large and within North American Hindu spaces in particular