ISBN : 9780190941222
Imagining Religious Communities tells the story of the Gupta family through the personal and religious narratives they tell as they create and maintain their extended family and community across national borders. Based on ethnographic research, the book demonstrates the ways that transnational communities are involved in shaping their experiences through narrative performances.
Jennifer B. Saunders demonstrates that narrative performances shape participants' social realities in multiple ways: they define identities, they create connections between community members living on opposite sides of national borders, and they help create new homes amidst increasing mobility. The narratives are religious and include epic narratives such as excerpts from the Ramayana as well as personal narratives with dharmic implications. Saunders' analysis combines scholarly understandings of the ways in which performances shape the contexts in which they are told, indigenous comprehension of the power that reciting certain narratives can have on those who hear them, and the theory that social imaginaries define new social realities through expressing the aspirations of communities. Imagining Religious Communities argues that this Hindu community's religious narrative performances significantly contribute to shaping their transnational lives.
A Note on Transliteration and Translation
List of Figures
Introduction: Satya's Story: Transnational Social Networks, Narrative Performances, and Religion
Chapter 1: On the Importance of Mandalis: Transnational Communities, Social Imaginaries, and Narrative Performance
Chapter 2: New Opportunities, The Brain Drain, and the Guptas
Chapter 3: Growing Up Indian, Becoming Immigrants: Interpreting Immigration Narratives
Chapter 4: One's own home is better than all other places: Creating Family and Home as Transmigrants
Chapter 5: Neither Black nor White: Moving to the Atlanta of the New South
Chapter 6: Sundarkand: Performing Community and Religion
Conclusion: Toward a Transnational Hinduism