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Religion and Its Discontents

This special South Asia roundtable on “Religion and its Discontents” adds a comparative perspective to the Arab Studies Conference at UC Davis, (May 2nd & 3rd 2014) by highlighting parallels and themes emerging from the South Asian region as a whole. It aims to reflect on, unsettle, and thereby advance our understanding of “religion” through ethnoraphic, historical, textual, and cross-disciplinary conversations.

May 01, 2014
from 02:00 PM to 05:00 PM

In the past few decades, the category of “religion” in South Asia--its concepts, paradigms, and study—as well as the social, political, and historical contexts of various religious traditions, the impact of colonial and postcolonial political economies, issues of secularism, communalism, and religious conflict, and the role of religion in cultural futures, have received renewed attention.

Roundtable panelists include both international and U.S. based scholars:

Srilata Raman is Associate Professor of Modern Hinduism at the University of Toronto. Her areas of interest include Sanskrit and Tamil intellectual formations in South India from pre-colonial times to modernity, Modern Hinduism, Colonial Sainthood, Hagiography, and Modern Tamil literature. She is the author of Self-Surrender (Prapatti) to God in Srīvaiṣṇavism. Tamil Cats and Sanskrit Monkeys (2007), and Words and Deeds. Hindu and Buddhist Rituals in South Asia (2005). Her current project relates to the transformation of South Asian/Tamil religion under the conditions of colonial modernity. Dr. Raman speaks on “Tamilizing the Passion of Christ: Early, Colonial South India and the Encounters with Christianity."

V. Geetha writes and researches on modern Tamil history. She is currently working in the areas of literary and labor studies, cross-cultural perspectives in history, and historical biography. Previously she has worked on issues to do with caste, gender, language and education. Her published works include (with Nalini Rajan) Religious Faith, Ideology, Citizenship: The View from Below (2011); The Truth About Me: A Hijra Life Story (translated from the Tamil original by A. Revathi, 2010); (with S.V.Rajadurai), (ed) Revolt: A Radical Weekly in Colonial Madras (2010); The Periyar Century: Themes in Caste, Gender and Religion (2008); Towards a Non-Brahmin Millennium: from Iyothee Thass to Periyar (1998). V. Geetha discusses “Being Fraternal: Dr Ambedkar's Engagement with Buddhism.” Lamia Karim is an associate professor and associate head of anthropology at the University of Oregon. She is the author of Micro-finance and Its Discontents: Women in Debt in Bangladesh (2011). She is currently working on a new book manuscript entitled The Body in Change: Bengali Muslim Modernities in Bangladesh. Her research interests are on globalization, the state, NGOs, gender, and social movements. Dr. Karim will talk on “The ‘Erotics’ of Liberation: Secular Feminists and Women of the Tabligh Ja’maat in Bangladesh.”

Sharika Thiranagama is Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Stanford University. Her research has focused on various aspects of the Sri Lankan civil war. She has conducted research with two different ethnic groups, Sri Lankan Tamils and Sri Lankan Muslims, exploring changing forms of ethnicisation, the effects of protracted civil war on ideas of home in the midst of profound displacement and the transformations in and relationships between the political and the familial in the midst of political repression and militarization. Her new re-search in Sri Lanka is on post war life in the Jaffna Peninsula. She is author of In My Mother’s House: Civil War in Sri Lanka (2011) and Traitors: Suspicion, Intimacy and the Ethics of State-Building (2010). Dr. Thiranagama talks on “Post-Liberation Theology: Religion and Caste among Northern Catholics.”

The roundtable is convened and moderated by Smriti Srinivas, Professor of Anthropology, and supported by Institute of Social Sciences, the Division of Social Sciences and the Middle East/ South Asia Studies Program.