Sponsored By: Infinity Foundation

IAHR Regional Conference on the Study of Religions in India

IAHR Regional Conference on the Study of Religions in India
December 18 – December 21, 2003
New Delhi, India

Organized by Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi
in collaboration with India International Centre, New Delhi

Madhu Kishwar, Convener
Ashis Nandy and Robert Thurman, Co-chairs
Phone: (91-11) 395-1190; 394219 Submission of Proposals, Manuscripts and Other Conference
Fax: (91-11) 394-3450
Correspondence via E-mail to: madhuk@csdsdelhi.org

Call for Papers

Theme: Religions in Indic Civilization

The Indic universe gave birth to four major world religions, as well as a vast diversity of schools of metaphysical thought and religious practice. It has witnessed dramatic and sometimes cataclysmic encounters with non-Indic religious traditions.

The sub-continent also nurtured several persecuted religious traditions (e.g., Jews, Zoroastrians, Bahaiis) from different parts of the world. Within the Indic world, the diverse communities developed innovative ways of living together that are being continuously reworked, as well as modes of religious dialogue and renewal that often altogether bypass theological differences. Through this process, they evolved many common cultural symbols, socio-religious practices and codes of behaviour that facilitate non-antagonistic coexistence among them, even while they retain their specific identities. Consequently, the dividing lines between various religious communities as well as between folk and classical religious traditions have retained a great deal of fluidity and complexity.

And yet, too often, the interrelations of ethno-religious communities living in the sub continent have been viewed in the scholarly literature through simplistic and misleading stereotypes. It is surprising and ironic that in contemporary India the scholarly study of religion has not become a well-established discipline within the academic world. While many of the highly regarded universities in various parts of the world contain well-developed departments for the study of Indic religions, no university in India hosts similar rigorous programmes of religious studies. One of the consequences of this failure is the continuing hold of misleading stereotypes of the nature of Indic religious thought and practice.

This Conference aims to encourage rigorous secular studies of religious traditions in India: Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, Jainism, Buddhism, Neo-Buddhism, Christianity, Islam and Sikhism including their various sects and branches.

The Conference also hopes to establish a process for bringing together on a regular basis scholars in India who are working in the field of religion to promote the study of religions in India as a rigorous secular discipline.

Panels, symposia and individual papers are welcome on themes that include, but are not limited to the following, offered as examples:

  1. Studies of traditional religious texts with a special focus on:
  • notions of the common or public good; norms about accumulating and sharing income and wealth;
  • ideal forms of gender, generational, conjugal and familial relations;
  • theories of kingship, justice and political authority;
  • relations between the divine and mortals, rulers and ruled, nature and human beings.
  1. Overlapping interrelationships among religious dogmas, theologies, philosophies, folk beliefs, and actual practices; varying concepts of the canonical in religious traditions
  2. Historical and contemporary studies of:
  • the growth or decay of syncretic traditions in religious texts, practices and norms;
  • the role and functions of dharmasthans, pilgrimage centres as well as the control and management of religious institutions;
  • the rise, decline and renewals of shramanic religious traditions within Indic civilisation
  1. The politics of religious conversion historically and/or in contemporary India; Limits of religious authority within specific systems of religious beliefs, norms, and practices for participants, dissenters and outsiders
  2. The historical and contemporary impact of the rise of nationalism on religious beliefs and practices, Gandhi’s religion, and Hindu-Muslim relations in 20th Century Indic civilisation
  3. Special methodological concerns in the study of religions within Indic civilization, and ways of approaching their resolution
  4. Contributions of Indic religions to cosmological speculation in 20th century science

Those who wish to submit preliminary ideas for major addresses, panels or symposia to the Programme Committee chaired jointly by Professors Ashis Nandy and Robert Thurman for possible selection should send a three hundred word abstract to: madhuk@csdsdelhi.org.

There will be a total of two hours allocated per session, including presentations and discussion. Unless otherwise indicated, the person who submits the proposal for a panel or symposium will be considered the chair. He or she should list at least two but no more than four scholars who make a commitment to present a paper on the topic, as well as one other person who will respond to the panel of speakers. Each presenter will have 20 minutes to give their paper; the respondent will have 10 minutes at the end of the presentations to make comments on the papers. The remaining time will be devoted to discussion from the floor.

The abstracts for panels or symposia should include the main title of the session and fully delineated subtitles for each of the presentations.

It will be the responsibility of the organiser of each of the panels or symposia to make all efforts to assure that the scholars who will present a paper are fully committed to participate, as well as confirm the accuracy of the titles of the papers and the names of the participants accepted as part of the agenda of the Conference.

Kindly furnish the following information along with the abstracts:

Designation (Prof/Dr/Ms/Mr)
Type of Presentation (Panel/Symposia/Major address)
Mailing address and phone number of correspondent, including, if possible, E-mail address

For panel/symposia submissions, please provide full names and mailing addresses of all the panelists, specifying the name of the panel organiser along with their e-mail addresses.

Last date for submission of abstracts: January 31, 2003

Final Date for Confirmation of accepted proposals: February 28, 2003

Postal correspondence:

The Programme Committee, IAHR Conference
Centre for the Study of Developing Societies
29 Rajpur Road, Delhi-110054, (India)
Fax: 0091-11-394 3450