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Maxwell School
Maxwell / Moynihan / South Asia Center

South Asia Religious Transnationalism

Economic globalization is only one face of the increasing interconnections between disparate parts of the world. In the long run, even more significant may be the transnational forging of religious identities. These transnational networks and the mechanisms through which they operate remain relatively understudied. South Asia is a particularly important node in the rise and spread of global religious networks.  It is home to most of the major religions of the world; is a significant exporter of unskilled, skilled, and professional migrants to various countries around the globe; and is well-integrated into international economic and mass communication circuits. While this conference will focus on religious networks that originate in South Asia, we track these networks as they emanate into other areas of the world.

Our symposium has several goals. We will examine a range of transnational movements within various South Asian religious traditions. We will also study the characteristics and impacts of different types of transnational religious movements emanating from the sub-continent including those espousing religious nationalism, those whose goal is the reproduction of homeland traditions in diaspora, and those sustaining or diffusing spiritual teachings.  Our ultimate objective is to situate the rise of South Asian religious transnationalism against the backdrop of contemporary international developments.

What types of social, economic, cultural, and political forces condition the emergence and form of South Asian religious movements? How do South Asian religious movements manifest themselves in other countries in the world and what accounts for similarities and differences? What connections do South Asian religious movements forge with groups around the world and how do these connections impact such movements?  While our modest symposium cannot provide definitive answers, we hope to achieve better understandings of these issues by the end of the conference.