Imagining Religious Communities: Transnational Hindus and their Narrative Performances

ISBN : 9780190941222

Jennifer B. Saunders
264 ページ
156 x 235 mm

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


Jennifer B. Saunders is an independent scholar living in Stamford, CT. She has taught in a number of colleges and universities in the Southeast, Midwest, and Northeast. Her research interests include the transmission of Hindu devotional songs among middle class women in India and beyond specifically and religion and migration generally. She has published articles on transnational Hinduism in a variety of peer-reviewed journals including Religion Compass and Nova Religio. She is co-founder of the American Academy of Religion's Religion and Migration Group and a co-editor of Palgrave Macmillan's Religion and Global Migration series.