South Asia

Organized Panel Session

Complicating Visions: Examining Religious Discourses and Their Publics in Gujarat Through Architecture, Geography, History, and Politics

Saturday, July 7
10:20 AM - 11:50 AM
Location: Cypress, New Building

The religious history of Gujarat, in tandem with its particular social stratigraphy, politics, and geographic location, has attracted generalizations, sometimes resting on the empirical study but just as often derived from persistent and problematic assumptions. In this panel, the objective is to closely examine and trace the genealogies of specific religious discourses as well as their material manifestations in order to understand the factors that provoke, support, and contest their expression. The panel, in its multidisciplinary configuration, probes the strategies—aesthetic, religious, and political—that Gujarati religious communities have deployed to assert their identities for themselves and their publics. The panel also recognizes that its critical focus on discourse producing mechanisms may itself be influenced by assumptions about religion and culture. 


The panelists individually but especially in conversation with each offer data from the BAPS Swaminarayan community, Jains, and the “sphere” of gurus in Gujarat. Two panelists look at Swaminarayan material production, one focusing on the architectural lineage in its temples, and the other on its post-disaster village reconstruction activities. The third panelist investigates some of the lacunae caused by the absence of the Digambar Jains from the historiography of Gujarat. The fourth panelist analyses the genealogy of discursive activities from Gandhi to gurus in Gujarat and their divergent public sphere politics. All papers highlight the interplay of hagiography, iconography, temple construction, village reconstruction, and the production of public and religious spheres in Gujarat, in the contexts of local and regional dynamics of power and politics.

Send Email for Hanna Kim

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Mona G. Mehta

Indian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar, India

Presentation(s):

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Ankur V. Desai

The Ohio State University, United States

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Howard Spodek

Temple University, United States

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