Matching Items (6)

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The Eki-Beki dispute and the unification of the Gauda Saraswat Brahman caste

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During the early twentieth century, a caste dispute known as the Eki-Beki dispute erupted among a group of historically related Konkani-speaking Brahman castes on the western coast of India. A

During the early twentieth century, a caste dispute known as the Eki-Beki dispute erupted among a group of historically related Konkani-speaking Brahman castes on the western coast of India. A faction among the castes argued that the variously related Konkani-speaking Brahman castes were originally one caste called the Gauda Saraswat Brahman (GSB) caste, which got split into several sub-castes. They further argued that the time had come to unite all these castes into one unified GSB caste. This faction came to be known as the Eki-faction, which meant the unity-faction. The Eki-faction was opposed by the majority of the members of the above-mentioned castes who disagreed with the idea of unification. This opposing faction came to be known as the Beki-faction, i.e. the disunity-faction. Despite the opposition from the majority, the Eki-faction managed to unite these different castes to form the contemporary unified GSB caste. The Gaud Saraswat Brahman caste in its current form is the product of this dispute. The formation of the GSB caste was initiated by members of these castes who had migrated from different rural regions of the western coast of India to the urban center Bombay. The rise of the GSB caste, however, became a contested process. Dominant non-GSB Brahman groups in Bombay discredited the migrants as being outsiders of lower ritual status. The unification movement was also opposed by the majority of these Konkani-speaking castes residing in the rural regions of the west coast of India. The struggle of the urban migrants for unification involved publication of Hindu texts and changes of normative practices, such as dining regulations and marriage arrangements, that affected the long-standing norms of maintaining ritual purity. Despite the opposition, the urban migrants partially succeeded in unifying the variously related Konkani-speaking Brahman castes. My dissertation is a history of this process.

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  • 2018

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Minoritization of Pakistani Hindus (1947-1971)

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This dissertation discusses the processes of post-colonial minoritization of Hindus in Pakistan from the inception of the state in 1947 to the secession of the eastern wing (former East Pakistan,

This dissertation discusses the processes of post-colonial minoritization of Hindus in Pakistan from the inception of the state in 1947 to the secession of the eastern wing (former East Pakistan, now Bangladesh) from the country after a civil and international war in 1971. The dissertation analyzes the emergence and development of the minority question in Europe and connects it with Colonial India, where it culminated into Partition of British India and emergence of Pakistan in 1947. The dissertation analyzes post- Colonial minoritization of Pakistani Hindus as a gradual process on three different but interconnected levels: 1. the loss of Hindu life from Pakistan, 2. the transference of Hindu property and 3. the political minoritization of Pakistani Hindus. The dissertation does so by approaching the history of Pakistani Hindus in two distinct geographical locations, Sindh and the ex-Pakistani province of East Bengal. It also includes discussion on Pakistani Scheduled Castes and Tribes. The dissertation is based on indepth, detailed fieldwork in Tharparkar district of Sindh province and archival research in Pakistan and Bangladesh.

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  • 2014

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Gurucaritra pārāyaṇ: social praxis of religious reading

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This dissertation project addresses one of the most critical problems in the study of religion: how do scriptures acquire significance in religious communities in ways that go beyond the meaning

This dissertation project addresses one of the most critical problems in the study of religion: how do scriptures acquire significance in religious communities in ways that go beyond the meaning of their words? Based on data collected during ethnographic work in Maharashtra, India, in 2011 and 2012, I analyze the complex relationship between a religious text and its readers with reference to ritual reading of the Gurucaritra, a Marathi scripture written in the sixteenth century. I argue that readers of the Gurucaritra create a self-actualized modern religiosity both by interpreting the content of the text and by negotiating the rules of praxis surrounding their reading activity.

In particular, this dissertation analyzes the ways in which members of the Dattatreya tradition in urban Maharashatra ritualize their tradition's central text-- the Gurucaritra--in terms of everyday issues and concerns of the present. Taking inspiration from reader-response criticism, I focus on the pArAyaN; (reading the entire text) of the Gurucaritra, the central scripture of the Dattatreya tradition, in the context of its contemporary readings in Maharashtra. In the process of reading the Gurucaritra, readers become modern by making a conscious selection from their tradition. In the process of approaching their tradition through the text, what they achieve is a sense of continuity and a faith that, if they have the support of the guru, nothing can go wrong. In the process of choosing elements from their tradition, they ultimately achieve a sense of being modern individuals who work out rules of religiosity for themselves.

This dissertation contributes to the study of scriptures in two major ways: first, by bringing forth how religious communities engage with scriptures for reasons other than their comprehension; second, by showing how scriptures can play a crucial role in religious communities in the context of addressing concerns of their present. Thus, this research contributes to the fields of scripture studies, Hinduism, and literary criticism.

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Date Created
  • 2014

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Creating New Orleans: race, religion, rhetoric, and the Louisiana Purchase

Description

Though some scholars have written about place and history, few have pursued the use of place theory in length in relation to the connections between race, religion, and national identity.

Though some scholars have written about place and history, few have pursued the use of place theory in length in relation to the connections between race, religion, and national identity. Using the writings in the United States and Louisiana in the years surrounding the Louisiana Purchase, I explore place-making and othering processes. U.S. leaders influenced by the Second Great Awakening viewed New Orleans as un-American in its religion and seemingly ambiguous race relations. New Orleanian Catholics viewed the U.S. as an aggressively Protestant place that threatened the stability of the Catholic Church in the Louisiana Territory. Both Americans and New Orleanians constructed the place identities of the other in relation to events in Europe and the Caribbean, demonstrating that places are constructed in relation to one another. In order to elucidate these dynamics, I draw on place theory, literary analysis, and historical anthropology in analyzing the letters of W.C.C. Claiborne, the first U.S. governor of the Louisiana Territory, in conjunction with sermons of prominent Protestant ministers Samuel Hopkins and Jedidiah Morse, a letter written by Ursuline nun Sister Marie Therese de St. Xavior Farjon to Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington Cable's Reconstruction era novel The Grandissimes. All of these parties used the notion of place to create social fact that was bound up with debates about race and anti-Catholic sentiments. Furthermore, their treatments of place demonstrate concerns for creating, or resisting absorption by, a New Republic that was white and Protestant. Place theory proves useful in clarifying how Americans and New Orleanians viewed the Louisiana Purchase as well as the legacy of those ideas. It demonstrates the ways in which the U.S. defined itself in contradistinction to religious others. Limitations arise, however, depending on the types of sources historians use. While official government letters reveal much when put into the context of the trends in American religion at the turn of the nineteenth century, they are not as clearly illuminating as journals and novels. In these genres, authors provide richer detail from which historians can try to reconstruct senses of place.

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Date Created
  • 2011

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Walking to Magdalena: place and person in Tohono O'odham songs, sticks, and stories

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This dissertation examines songs, sticks, and stories pertaining to Tohono O'odham pilgrimages to Magdalena, Sonora, Mexico, the home of their patron saint, Saint Francis. In the sense that Tohono O'odham

This dissertation examines songs, sticks, and stories pertaining to Tohono O'odham pilgrimages to Magdalena, Sonora, Mexico, the home of their patron saint, Saint Francis. In the sense that Tohono O'odham travel to Magdalena in order to sustain their vital and long-standing relationship with their saint, these journeys may be understood as a Christian pilgrimages. However, insofar as one understands this indigenous practice as a Christian pilgrimage, it must also be noted that Tohono O'odham have made Christianity their own. The findings show that Tohono O'odham have embedded, or emplaced, Christianity within their ancestral landscapes, and that they have done so in a variety of ways through songs, staffs, and stories. This work emphasizes connections between O'odham processes of producing places and persons. Songs associated with the journey to Magdalena, which contain both geographical and historical knowledge, foreground the significance of place and the movements of various persons at the places mentioned within them. The staffs of O'odham walkers, like other sticks, similarly contain both geographical and historical knowledge, evoking memories of past journeys in the present and the presence of Magdalena. Staffs are also spoken of and treated as persons, or at least as an extension of O'odham walkers. O'odham stories of good and bad walkers illustrate contested O'odham ideologies of socially sanctioned movements. Finally, this dissertation concludes by demonstrating some of the ways in which O'odham senses of their own history diverge from academic models of Tohono O'odham history and the history of Christianity in the Americas.

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  • 2013

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Rebirth of a lineage: the hereditary household of the Han Celestial Master and Celestial Masters Daoism at Dragon and Tiger Mountain

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This dissertation is a study and translation of the Hereditary Household of the Han Celestial Master (Han tianshi shijia 漢天師世家), a hagiographical account of successive generations of the Zhang family

This dissertation is a study and translation of the Hereditary Household of the Han Celestial Master (Han tianshi shijia 漢天師世家), a hagiographical account of successive generations of the Zhang family patriarchs of Celestial Masters Daoism (Tianshi dao 天師道) at Dragon and Tiger Mountain (Longhu shan 龍虎山) in Jiangxi province that was compiled in stages between the late fourteenth and early seventeenth centuries. The Zhang family emerged in the late Tang or early Five dynasties period and rose to great prominence and power through the Song, Yuan, and Ming dynasties on the basis of the claim of direct and unbroken lineal descent from Zhang Daoling 張道陵 the ancestral Celestial Master whose covenant with the deified Laozi in 142 C.E. is a founding event of the Daoist religion. In this study I trace the lineal history of the Zhang family as presented in the Hereditary Household in chronological parallel to contrasting narratives found in official histories, epigraphy, and the literary record. This approach affords insight into the polemical nature of the text as an assertion of legitimacy and allows for a demonstration of how the work represents an attempt to create in writing an idealized past in order to win prestige in the present. It also affords the opportunity to scour the historical record in an attempt to ascertain a plausible timeframe for the origin of the movement and to explore the relationship of the Hereditary Household to earlier hagiographic works that may have informed it. This study also contextualizes the Hereditary Household in the post-Tang religious climate of China. In that period the establishment of lineal authenticity and institutional charisma through narratives of descent became a widespread tool of legitimation employed by Buddhists, Daoists, and Confucians in hopes of obtaining imperial recognition and patronage.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2016