Congratulations to our South Asia Center faculty who saw their books released in 2017.
Shiptown: Between Rural and Urban North India
Dr. Ann G. Gold, Thomas J. Watson Professor, Department of Religion University of Pennsylvania Press, 2017
Jahazpur is a small market town or qasba with a diverse population of more than 20,000 people located in Bhilwara District in the North Indian state of Rajasthan. With roots deep in history and legend, Shiptown (a literal translation of landlocked Jahazpur’s name) today is a subdistrict headquarters and thus a regional hub for government services unavailable in villages. Rural and town lives have long intersected in Shiptown’s market streets, which are crammed with shopping opportunities, many designed to lure village customers.
Temples, mosques, and shrines attract Hindus and Muslims from
nearby areas. In the town’s densely
settled center—still partially walled,
with arched gateways intact—many neighborhoods remain segregated by hereditary
birth group. By contrast, in some newer, more spacious
residential areas outside the walls, persons of distinct communities and
religions live as neighbors. Throughout Jahazpur municipality a peaceful
pluralism normally prevails.
Ann Grodzins Gold lived in Santosh Nagar,
the oldest of Shiptown’s new settlements, for ten months, recording interviews and participating in festival, ritual, and social events—public and
private, religious and secular. While engaged
with contemporary scholarship, Shiptown is
moored in the everyday lives of the town’s residents,
and each chapter has at its center a specific node of Jahazpur experience. Gold seeks to portray how neighborly relations are forged
and endure across lines of difference; how ancient hierarchical social structures shift in major ways while never
exactly disappearing; how in spite of pervasive conservative family values, gender roles are transforming
rapidly and radically; how environmental deterioration affects not only public
health but individual hearts, inspiring activism; and how commerce and morality
keep uneasy company. She sustains a
conviction that, even in the globalized present, local experiences are
significant, and that anthropology—that most intimate and poetic of the social
sciences—continues to foster productive conversations among human beings.
Ethnic Church Meets Megachurch : Indian American Christianity in Motion
Dr. Prema Kurien, Professor, Department of Sociology NYU Press, 2017
This book exposes how a new paradigm of ethnicity and religion and the mega- church phenomenon are shaping contemporary immigrant religious institutions, specifically Indian American Christianity. Kurien draws on multi-site research in the US and India to provide a global perspective on religion by demonstrating the variety of ways that transnational processes affect religious organizations and the lives of members, both in the place of destination and of origin.
The widespread prevalence of megachurches and the dominance of American evangelicalism created an environment in which the traditional practices of the ancient South Indian Mar Thoma denomination seemed alien to its American- born generation. Many of the young adults left to attend evangelical mega- churches. Kurien examines the pressures church members face to incorporate contemporary American evangelical worship styles into their practice, including an emphasis on an individualistic faith, and praise and worship services, often at the expense of maintaining the ethnic character and support system of their religious community.
Kurien’s sophisticated analysis also demonstrates how the forces of globalization, from the period of colonialism to contemporary out-migration, have brought about tremendous changes among Christian communities in the Global South. Wide in scope, this book is a must read for an audience interested in the study of global religions and cultures.
Narrating Love and Violence : Women Contesting Caste, Tribe, and State in Lahaul, India
Dr. Himika Bhattacharya, Associate Professor, Women’s and Gender Studies Rutgers University Press, 2017
Narrating Love and Violence is an ethnographic exploration of women’s stories from the Himalayan valley of Lahaul, in the region of Himachal Pradesh, India, focusing on how both love and violence emerge (or function) at the intersection of gender, tribe, caste, and the state in India. Himika Bhattacharya privileges the everyday lives of women marginalized by caste and tribe to show how state and community discourses about gendered violence serve as proxy for caste in India, thus not only upholding these social hierarchies, but also enabling violence.
The women in this book tell their stories through love, articulated as rejection, redefini- tion and reproduction of notions of violence and solidarity. Himika Bhattacharya cen- ters the women’s narratives as a site of knowledge—beyond love and beyond violence. This book shows how women on the margins of tribe and caste know both love and violence as agents wishing to re-shape discourses of caste, tribe and community.
Place/No-Place in Urban Asian Religiosity
Ed. by Dr. Joanne Punzo Waghorne, Professor, Department of Religion Springer, 2017
This book discusses Asia’s rapid pace of urbanization, with a particular focus on new spaces created by and for everyday religiosity. The essays in this volume – covering topics from the global metropolises of Singapore, Bangalore, Seoul, Beijing, and Hong Kong to the regional centers of Gwalior, Pune, Jahazpur, and sites like Wudang Mountain – examine in detail the spaces created by new or changing religious organizations that range in scope from neighborhood-based to consciously global. The definition of “spatial aspects” includes direct place-making projects such as the construction of new religious buildings – temples, halls and other meeting sites, as well as less tangible religious endeavors such as the production of new “mental spaces” urged by spiritual leaders, or the shift from terra firma to the strangely concrete effervesce of cyberspace. With this in mind, it explores how distinct and blurred, and open and bounded communities generate and participate in diverse practices as they deliberately engage or disengage with physical landscapes/cityscapes. It highlights how through these religious organizations, changing class and gender configurations, ongoing political and economic transformations continue as significant factors shaping and affecting Asian urban lives.
In addition, the books goes further by exploring new and often bittersweet “improvements” like metro rail lines, new national highways, widespread internet access, that bulldoze – both literally and figuratively – religious places and force relocations and adjustments that are often innovative and unexpected. Furthermore, this volume explores personal experiences within the particularities of selected religious organizations and the ways that subjects interpret or actively construct urban spaces. The essays show, through ethnographically and historically grounded case studies, the variety of ways newly emerging religious communities or religious institutions understand, value, interact with, or strive to ignore extreme urbanization and rapidly changing built environments.