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North American Hinduism Unit

Call for Proposals

While we accept paper proposals, we strongly encourage full panel (paper or roundtable) proposals with a coherent theme. If you have any additional questions please feel free to contact Shana Sippy and/or Dheepa Sundaram

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 Shana Sippy and/or Dheepa Sundaram

NAH seeks to sponsor a new "Emerging Voices" panel. 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: to showcase emerging scholars’ work 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. Contact Shana Sippy (shana.sippy@centre.edu) and Dheepa Sundaram (dheepa.sundaram@du.edu) for more information.

1) Caste in Diaspora: Rethinking Caste as a Transcontinental Practice. (Contact: shana.sippy@centre.edu)
This panel seeks papers that challenge the myth that caste has disappeared in the Indian diaspora, both within the U.S. and beyond, as a result of the indentured diaspora and other migration waves.  We are especially interested in papers that use caste as a mode of examining the development of Hindu traditions in places like North America, the Caribbean, as well as transnationally in places such as Fiji, South Africa, etc.

2) Political Hinduisms. (Dheepa Sundaram, dheepa.sundaram@du.edu)
This panel seeks papers that consider how the diversity, dynamism, and growing social/political influence of Hindus and Hindu ‘publics’ within the US. In particular, we are interested in papers that consider the intersectional power dynamics that inform Hindu communities in the US. Suggested topics may include: the role of community organizations in shaping Hindu public life, Tulsi Gabbard and expressions of Hinduism and Hindu nationalism in US political arenas, activism and Hindu student organizations, Hinduism and interfaith organizing, enacted rituals and recognition of Hindu festivals and rituals in the public sphere, and the role of organized Hindu groups in political campaigns.

3) Hinduism and the Other: Indo-Caribbean tradition, Islam, Trinidad, North American Hindu Diaspora. (Contact: Prea Persaud)
This panel seeks papers that discuss interreligious encounters, conflict, and/or solidarities between Hindus and other religious groups in the Americas. Papers may discuss how Hindus use these encounters to define Hinduism or draw boundaries around their identities, how conflicts are mobilized in politics, the intersection between constructions of racial and religious identities, ways in which religious practices have been combined or mixed, issues of marriage, gender, etc.

4) Digital Hindu Publics. (Contact: Dheepa Sundaram, dheepa.sundaram@du.edu)
The panel explores how caste and capital shape the contours of Hindu digital engagement, platforms, and communities within North America and through transnational connections. We seek papers that consider the term “digital” broadly and engaged with various themes including (but not limited to): the digital economy of caste, virtual ritual communities, social media groups, digital media and nationalism, and virtual applications and capital investment.

5) Gurus, Godmen, and New Age Dharma: New Religious Movements in the North American Context. (Contact: Tulasi Srinivasan, tulasi_srinivas@emerson.edu)
This panel seeks papers that explore "guru culture" or the "guru craze" broadly defined in North American contexts.

6) Student Activism, Hindu Communities, and Caste on University Campuses in North America. (Contact: Shana Sippy, shana.sippy@centre.edu)
This panel explores how Hindu student groups have been impacted by transnational discourse and how they interact with such discourses in North America. We particularly welcome papers on caste discrimination/recognition, the development and agendas of Hindu student groups, and intersections between Hindu student activism, and other social and political movements (interfaith, progressive, Hindutva/nationalist, BLM, feminist, environmental).

7) Screening caste, Teaching Caste in North America: Pedagogical Approaches to Media Studies that attend to discourses of Inequity and Power. (Contact: Prea Persaud) This panel seeks papers that examine portrayals of caste in popular South Asian films and TV shows, their reception in North American contexts, and teaching South Asian media inclusively. We are particularly interested in papers that analyze recent films and offer teaching tactics, 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 directed at North American audiences such as Never Have I Ever or Indian Matchmaking.  

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

Chairs

Steering Committee Members

Method

PAPERS
Other

Other

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.

Review Process

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

Review Process Comments

The number of proposals submitted to our Unit has admittedly declined over the past five years, reaching a high in 2015 of 15 proposals, and a low of 5 in 2016. However, according to steering committee members who served between 2014-2018, the quality of proposals received was quite high. In 2019, with our new steering committee and chairs, we saw a small increase in the number of proposals, receiving one for a full roundtable and twelve other paper proposals. We rejected 5 papers submitted for a joint session with the African Diaspora Religions Unit because the proposals did not reflect the rigor and nuance with respect to Hindu traditions that we wish to see in our sessions. We are excited about the possibility of co-sponsoring with them, seeing this as a fruitful alliance and subject for scholarly inquiry; we hope to pursue co-sponsorship with them in the future. We do not believe that the small number of proposals is indicative of the Unit’s relevance or interest for Academy members. Rather, we believe that the decline in numbers was indicative of poor networking, outreach, and publicity with respect to the Call for Papers. This is something we are actively working to improve going forward. We have established a Facebook page for Scholars of North American Hinduism, created a twitter account and started a listserve of interested scholars. We believe that all of this will help to generate higher numbers of high-quality proposals.