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How Can Religion Be Studied in South Asian Universities? Or Should It Be?

Shivdasani Lecture
OCHS Library
Professor Joseph T. O’Connell
Friday, 10 June 2011 - 2:00pm

There is a striking disparity between the prominence of religious factors in personal and collective life of so much of the population of South Asian countries and the extreme rarity of study and research explicitly on religion in the universities of those same countries. This anomalous disparity has recently become a subject of concern to a number of scholars within South Asia as well as to some elsewhere who focus their own scholarship on religion in South Asia. This lecture notes several contributory factors (European origin, cultural differences, colonial precedents, novelty and lack of teachers, teaching resources and teaching positions) but gives primary attention to fear and hostility between religio-political communalist and secularist mentalities and interests as inhibiting academic study of religion.