South Asia

Organized Panel Session

3 - Tracing Religion in Mumbai Neighborhoods

Thursday, March 22
7:30 PM - 9:30 PM
Location: Marriott Balcony B, Mezzanine Level

Residents and ethnographers alike encounter challenges when it comes to understanding the complex socio-religious dynamics of major South Asian cities. Perpetually expanding and transforming, their size and diversity makes them difficult to comprehend as a whole. Descriptions and analyses of smaller units (neighborhoods, streets, building complexes) constitute therefore a more useful approach for studying the ways in which residents negotiate their everyday in continuous contact with the social/religious/ethnic other. There is hardly a city in the world with a religiously more diverse population than Mumbai, which makes this metropolis an ideal place to explore the role of religious factors in the forging of structures and relations in the day-to-day life of its inhabitants. This presentation focuses on various levels of multi-religious dwelling in selected parts of the city, increasing in dimension and complexity from the flat to the apartment building, the street and the neighborhood. It looks at patterns of interreligious communication in mixed-religious families, at the perception of opportunities offered by multireligious dwelling contexts in apartment buildings, as well as at the range of everyday interaction in culturally diverse neighborhood constellations. The shared spaces selected for this paper are culturally heterogenous and highly dynamic. Social, ethnic and religious boundaries are permanently asserted and repeatedly crossed, in a mixed, fluid urban setting characterized by complex socialities and complicated neighborly relations.

Istvan Keul

University of Bergen, Hordaland, Norway

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