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Hope Away from Home: Hinduism in Diaspora As An Agent of Positive Social Transformation

Sun, June 26, 10:30am to 12:20pm, Shikokan (SK), Floor: BF, 002

Session Submission Type: Organized Panel Proposal Application


In recent years, institutionalized Hinduism in contemporary India has served as an instrument of intolerance and exclusion all too often. Hinduism has been used to perpetuate violence against minority groups, justify book banning and visa denials to visiting scholars, push through laws banning beef possession and consumption that harm some of Indian society’s most vulnerable and economically marginalized groups, rationalize violence against women who are seen as dressing or acting “inappropriately,” and so forth. Of course inclusive and progressive Hindu voices also exist and flourish in India, but such voices are sometimes hard to hear through the din, and they generally do not make newspaper headlines. Outside of India, in countries where Hinduism is a minority religion, forms of Hinduism that embody hope for a more peaceful and egalitarian future often have even greater opportunity to flourish. In diaspora, Hindus are free to harness and reimagine Hinduism as an instrument of positive social and religious change in ways that might not be possible in contemporary India.
The papers in this panel focus on “hope away from home” in the North American Hindu diaspora, that is, the ways in which varieties of Hinduism that emerge in these Hindu communities come to position themselves as actual or potential agents of constructive religious or social transformation. The panelists come from three countries (India, Canada, and the United States) and are at different stages of their careers; two are Indian or of Indian origin while three are Caucasian.

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