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
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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. 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. 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.
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 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. Contact Shana Sippy (email@example.com) and Dheepa Sundaram (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information.
Borders and Boundaries, Migrancy and Movement: The Politics of Identity, Religion, and South Asians in North America
Contact: Gaurika Mehta (email@example.com):
This panel aims to examine the contours of migration among South Asians in North America. In particular, it seeks to look at the motivations, challenges, and changes that migrants face. Possible topics to explore include: diasporic responses to the Farmer's, CAA/NRC Protests; the issues faced, in particular, by undocumented migrants from South Asia; the relationship between labor and migration; and the roles played by religious groups in response to these and other aspects of migration. (In part, we see this panel as a response to our presence in Texas).
Contact: Aarti Patel (firstname.lastname@example.org)
This panel seeks papers that explore the intersections of homemaking, pregnancy, and/or motherhood with South Asian religious traditions in the United States. Papers might address questions and the discourse around access to particular kinds of pre-and post-natal (health)care while considering the context of South Asian conceptions of maternal- and child- care, traditions, rituals, and/or beliefs more broadly.
*This panel seeks potential joint sponsorship with the South Asian Religions Unit.
Solidarity and Ally Discourses among Hindu Diasporic Communities
Contact: Shana Sippy (email@example.com)
This panel seeks to explore the ways in which various Hindu groups in the diaspora forge, frame, and perform different solidarities and alliances—ranging from progressive to conservative—and the responses (both positive and negative) of various groups. Possible topics include the politics of solidarities between Hindus and LGBTQ+ organizations, right-wing and mainstream Zionists, anti-caste advocacy groups, Muslim organizations, Black and other anti-racist organizations, or Native/Indigenous groups.
Contact: Shreya Mani (firstname.lastname@example.org)
This roundtable seeks to explore the ways caste can be taught in South Asian religions and Hinduism courses at the university level. We seek panelists who consider how to center the perspectives and lived experiences of caste-oppressed groups within the teaching of traditions such as Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism, Islam, Buddhism, and other South Asian religions. Potential topics include: how to teach Hindu canonical texts equitably, caste as a heuristic for understanding South Asian religious traditions and cultures, media representations of caste as a teaching tool, etc. We welcome papers that consider caste equity broadly within South Asian traditions in the context of North American pedagogy on South Asian religious traditions.
* This panel may seek joint sponsorship with the South Asian Religions Unit.
Contact: Dheepa Sundaram (email@example.com)
Potential co-sponsorship between North American Hinduism, Men, Masculinities, and Religions, Hinduism, and South Asian Religions Unit
This panel explores the hate politics, purity discourses, and identitarian grounding of groups that describe themselves as “Trads” or Traditionalists which operate in transnational contexts. While members of this group reject the Indian Constitution as a Western construct, many of its symbols are imported from the West—the white supremacist Alt-Right in the United States.
This panel aims to explore a range of ways in which Queering manifests and Queerness is expressed and experienced South Asian Religions (Texts, Traditions, and Spaces).
*This panel seeks potential joint sponsorship with South Asian Religions Unit.
Islam as a Civilizational Other in North American Hindu Contexts
Contact: Dheepa Sundaram (firstname.lastname@example.org)
This panel explores how Islam and Muslims are contextualized as “other” in North American Hindu spaces as a way to seek belonging within predominantly white Christian spaces. The panel would consider topics such as the: intersections between white supremacy and Hindu nationalist politics of othering, how online hate alliances emerge featuring Muslims as the other, the anti-Muslim rhetoric of US Hindu right-wing organizations.
Harnessing Our Scholarly Privilege and Power for Public Good: Reproductive Justice and Religion
With particular awareness of the AAR's presence in Texas (or wherever we may be), this call for proposals seeks to respond directly to the realities of a post-Dobbs America. We hope to bring together scholars who work in a range of regions and on different religious traditions in order to share their knowledge and comparative perspectives that will deepen our understanding of the issues surrounding reproductive justice. In the planning phase, we seek to gather together scholars and activists who wish to think through and prepare some type of public program on the issue of Reproductive Justice for the annual meeting. We anticipate this session will be jointly sponsored by a number of different units and, depending on the response, may involve multiple sessions or additional programming.
We understand people have different concerns and questions they hope to address around these issues. During pre-conference planning, we hope to facilitate virtual conversations about the following topics among others:
- Possible sessions (in-person and virtual)
- The location of the AAR/SBL meeting in Texas and practical responses
- Addressing safety, health, and security concerns of AAR/SBL participants
- Pedagogies for teaching about reproductive justice and abortion, along with strategies for supporting students in cases where they are in contexts where they are unable to access abortion resources
- The possibility of some sort of public programming or political action (fundraising for clinics, protests?)
- Facilitating opportunities for scholars of religion to learn from activists who are working on the ground, particularly those working in states with restrictive laws
- Possibly securing a grant to support these conversations and exchanges in a more sustained way
Caste in Diaspora: Rethinking Caste as a Transcontinental Practice
Contact: Shreena Gandhi (email@example.com)
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.
Hinduism and the Other in the North American Hindu Diaspora
Contact: Prea Persaud (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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.
contact: Bhakti Mamtora (email@example.com)
This panel invites papers that analyze the making of modern Hindu diasporas. In particular, the panel welcomes papers that investigate (1) trans-generational conceptions of and relationships with “homelands” and (2) the role of networks in shaping multi-directional flows of religious ideas.
*This panel may seek co-sponsorship with the Hinduism Unit.
Statement of Purpose
Steering Committee Members
Shreena Gandhi, Michigan State University1/1/2023 - 12/31/2028
Gaurika Mehta, Columbia University1/1/2023 - 12/31/2028
Aarti Patel, Syracuse University1/1/2023 - 12/31/2028
Prea Persaud, University of North Carolina, Charlotte1/1/2019 - 12/31/2024
Moumita Sen, MF, Norwegian Institute of Theology, Religion, and Society1/1/2021 - 12/31/2026