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Research

The OCHS research programme supports well-defined research in all areas in the study of Hindu culture. It encourages collaborative and individual scholarship that advances the understanding of cultures associated with Hinduism. It further aims to encourage fruitful interaction with the public from grass-roots to policy-makers to media, enhancing the culture of knowledge on the broadest scale.

OCHS research falls under four key streams: Hinduism and modernity; Classical Hinduism; Religious dialogue and interface; Historical perspectives on Hindu cultures.

The OCHS welcomes proposals for research projects in these and others areas of Hindu Studies. Guidelines for proposals can be found here.

Research projects

Sakta Traditions: History, Doctrine, and Practice

This project examines what might be called Śākta traditions: those traditions, tantric and non-tantric, that are focused on a Goddess (Devī) or on a God's feminine power (Śakti). It inquires into the history, doctrine and practices of 'Śāktism', exploring local and pan-South Asian traditions, esoteric practices and exoteric temple cults, and developments in contemporary Śākta worship.

Outputs: International conference in Oxford, 2011; proposed book with Routledge; publication in Journal of Hindu Studies

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Bhagavata Purana Research Project

The Bhagavata Purana is one of the most highly regarded and variegated of Hindu sacred texts, notable for its coherent narrative structure, high poetic quality, philosophical sophistication, and extensive development of bhakti theology. This project aims to produce both a balanced translation of the Purana, and a volume of critical essays on it.

Outputs: Two books published by Columbia University Press; proposed conference, catalogue of manuscripts, bibliography, and translations

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Bengali Vaishnavism in the Modern Period

This project undertakes the collection, translation, and investigation of material dealing with the modern development of Caitanya Vaisnavism in Bengal from the late 18th century to the present. It aims at facilitating research in a number of areas such as theology, sociology, history of ideas, philosophy, gender studies and anthropology.

Outputs: A proposed conference in 2013; a book series is currently being proposed to an American publisher.

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Thinking Inside the Box: Categories in Indian Philosophy

This project explores the use of categories as a way of doing philosophy in Indian intellectual culture. Indian categorical systems include linguistic categories, aesthetic and emotional categories, universals, logical, metaphysical, and ontological categories. The goal of this project is to shed a clear light on categorisation as a mode of reasoning in the Indian philosophical traditions, illuminating its relation to Western methods, and its unique contribution to philosophy across the globe.

Outputs: An international conference in 2009 bringing together major scholars in the field; a conference volume; publication in the Journal of Hindu Studies.

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Rethinking Religion

The OCHS "Rethinking Religion" project aims to refine current models of religion and the notions of religious meaning and experience which it entails. Through research, publication, and interdisciplinary and comparative collaboration, it hopes to propose new perspectives on the importance of religion, the nature of religious experiences, and the way in which we define 'religiosity'. The proceedings of this project will be disseminated to the academic community through print and web access.

Outputs:  Monograph publications; a national symposium; a dedicated webpage with articles and discussion.

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Hindu Christian Relations Project

In 2010 the nascent Hindu-Christian Forum won funding from the Department of Communities and Local Government to undertake a research project in the form of a 'listening exercise' exploring the relations between Hindu and Christian communities in the UK. This report is intended to guide the way for the future direction that the Hindu Christian Forum will take.

Outputs: Report and associated primary research materials 

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Hindu Archaeology and Text

This contributes to understanding how sacred spaces came to be defined from around the latter half of the first millennium BC onwards. It bridges the gap between textual studies and archaeology through a focus on the Hindu temple, inviting scholars from a range of academic specialisations to lead the way in terms of developing new research methodologies for exploring the concrete and performative actualisation of texts in the life of the temple.

Outputs: An international conference, the Shivdasani Archaeology and Text Conference, 2007; a conference-website disseminating visual and textual material to the wider academic community; an edited volume of related papers, Archaeology and Text: the Temple in South Asia, published by OUP.

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Global Hinduism: The Living Tradition

This project explores how Hinduism responds to new situations in global contexts around the world. Interviews in England, Trinidad, Mauritius, Bali, and Thailand reveal ways in which Hinduism is alive and growing in response to new situations. From Hindu rituals that draw on the vibrant energies of the Caribbean landscape, to conceptions of the divine adapted to the inter-faith discussions of British society, to Hinduism for Thai Buddhists who believe in the deities even though they do not believe in Hinduism – in all of these contexts we see Hindu religious ideas growing through the grassroots theology of everyday experience.

Outputs: A collection of interviews as primary resource material; a dedicated resource website; a monograph

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Jabbal Village Film Project

Jabbal Village in Himachal Pradesh, India, is in the foothills of the Himalayas at about 8,000 feet. There are about 500 people living in the village, and in August 1974 a group of students visited to make a film about village life. In 2007, two of them took the film back to show to people in the village, and made a new film about the changes that 33 years have bought to the community.

Outputs: Film and photo archive

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Oral Histories

What do we really know about the different communities of Asians living in Britain, in particular the Hindus? This research project was conceived and developed by the OCHS to record the experiences of Hindus who have settled in Britain. The project ran from 2000–4 and involved interviews with Hindus who migrated to Britain. The memories and impressions of first generation British Hindus will be invaluable in gaining a wider understanding of this community, and the results of this ground-breaking work is now being made accessible to scholars and researchers.

Outputs: A report; exhibition; audio interviews and transcriptions

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Hindu Archive

The Hindu Archive was established by the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies to help preserve the unique history of Hinduism. It is a collection of official documents, letters, diaries, memorabilia, newspapers, newsletters, photographs, audio and videotapes, films, CDs, and DVDs, that capture the history of Hindus in Britain and beyond. These materials have been generously donated by individuals who wanted to see their collections become part of an archive that documents the history of their culture and their community.

Outputs: Hindu archive in Oxford; British Hindu Oral History ProjectHindu Youth Research ProjectThe Digital Shikshapatri Project; The Matsya Project

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