Hindoos, Hindus, Spelling, and Theory

What is the relationship between spelling and theory? I often tell people my research is about "Hinduism in nineteenth century America." But it's really not. It's not about Hinduism at all. It can't be because the idea of "Hinduism," a world religion comparable to other world religions, isn't invented until the late nineteenth century. That's … Continue reading Hindoos, Hindus, Spelling, and Theory

“Native” is not a native term

“Diverses Pagodes et Penitences des Faquirs.”

A colleague on categories of practice and categories of analysis: That this distinction between practice and analysis is itself a form of identification for that thing we come to call the academy is certain (for we can indeed study the social practice of scholarship itself, no?), but I would argue that the result of these … Continue reading “Native” is not a native term

Religious Difference and the Monkey King of Oklahoma City

In 2012 private funds paid to erect a Ten Commandments monument on the grounds of the Oklahoma State Capitol. A 2009 state law allowing privately funded religious monuments on public grounds paved the way for the Ten Commandments to sit in granite outside the capitol. Seeing an opening in the new law and the new … Continue reading Religious Difference and the Monkey King of Oklahoma City

Miss America and Construction of the Other in American Culture

I have a new post up at Medium. Here's a taste: Last night Miss New York became Miss America. But even more importantly, Nina Davuluri became the first Indian-American Miss America. The New York native brought Bollywood dance to the stage during the talent competition and spoke from her platform of “celebrating diversity through cultural … Continue reading Miss America and Construction of the Other in American Culture

CFP: North American Hinduism Group: AAR 2013

 I've taken on the role of co-chair of the North American Hinduism Group this year. Here's our call for proposals for this fall's annual AAR meeting: The North American Hinduism Group seeks proposals on the topics listed below for the 2013 annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion. Please contact the listed organizers if … Continue reading CFP: North American Hinduism Group: AAR 2013

On Swami Vivekananda’s 150th Birthday: Beginnings and Endings

Tomorrow marks Swami Vivekananda's 150th birthday. Vivekananda haunts me. He was a man who meant and continues to mean many things to many people. But for me, Vivekananda will always represent a limit or a boundary. When I started the research project that became my dissertation, I started with Vivekananda and then turned and looked … Continue reading On Swami Vivekananda’s 150th Birthday: Beginnings and Endings

Tulsi Gabbard, the First Hindu in the U.S. Congress?

The Religion News Service has posted  an excellent profile of Tulsi Gabbard, the Democrat running for Congress in Hawaii's 2nd district. Gabbard is leading in the polls by a whopping 52 points and should win in a landslide. Of course, her opponent, Kawika Crowley, lives and campaigns out of bumper-stickered white van. If Gabbard wins, … Continue reading Tulsi Gabbard, the First Hindu in the U.S. Congress?

On the Anniversary of Thoreau’s ‘Walden’ and Its Place in American Religious History

Today marks the 158th anniversary of Henry David Thoreau's Walden. It couldn't have come at a better time. Right now I am knee deep in Transcendentalists, Thoreau included, as I wade through my chapter on Transcendentalist representations of Hinduism. The combination of today's anniversary and my current writing work got me thinking about how Henry … Continue reading On the Anniversary of Thoreau’s ‘Walden’ and Its Place in American Religious History

Transcendentalists and the Smoke Monster of Religion

I've made it to the Transcendentalists! The chapter on Unitarian and evangelical ideas about Hinduism is done and passed along to The Adviser. Now, I'm changing gears. The chapters I've written so far were exercises in uncovering. Only a couple previous studies had looked at the materials and so my basic work was to dig … Continue reading Transcendentalists and the Smoke Monster of Religion

Yoga and the Protestant Public Sphere; Or, Taking Back Yoga Where?

Thanks to NPR, the debate about white people doing yoga is back in the news: About 20 million people in the United States practice some form of yoga, from the formal Iyengar and Ashtanga schools to the more irreverent "Yoga Butt." But some Hindus say yoga is about far more than exercise and breathing techniques. … Continue reading Yoga and the Protestant Public Sphere; Or, Taking Back Yoga Where?