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Cosmopolitan visions of the homeland. How Hindus in the diaspora are renegotiating multiple identities

Graduate Seminars in Indic Religions
OCHS Library
Nirav Amin
Friday, 24 May 2013 - 4:00pm

Hindus in Britain are undergoing an interesting shift in their understanding of place within society at large. From multicultural parodies of ghettos, to the current appreciable cosmopolitan ethos within many Hindu communities in Britain, this paper shall evaluate some key elements that could explain why homeland inclinations may be evolving in the next generation.

Cosmopolitanism is now increasingly being raised to avoid the drawbacks of essentialism or some kind of zero-sum, all-or-nothing understanding of identity issues within a nation-state framework (Clifford 1998).

It is amongst the backdrop of an emerging cosmopolitan that we can attempt to find ways in which Hindus have been negotiating the public, private, and religious spaces within which identity creation has been occurring. By using the framework of cosmopolitanism, we can attempt to understand the emerging new rhetoric of identity creation, and how these identities have been evolving over the course of multiple generations (Amin 2012).

Temple building has served as one pillar, amongst many, that have served in performing this renegotiation of identities. They have served as a response to the diasporic longings of a transnational community, but most importantly, in a way that is ‘recognised’ and ‘accepted’ by their host community (Kim 2007).

Hindus, raised in the ‘West’, whom are encultured into the ‘Western’ notions of religion and identity, are often caught in the middle between their ‘Eastern’ transnational linkages, beliefs, and understandings, and their daily lived reality. This paper seeks to investigate this hybrid space between the West and East in the minds and lived realities of the Hindus in Britain.