P. (Priya) Swamy

Position:
  • PhD student and teacher
Expertise:
  • South Asian Studies


Telephone number: +31 (0)71 527 2952
E-Mail: p.swamy@hum.leidenuniv.nl
Faculty / Department: Faculteit der Geesteswetenschappen, Leiden Institute for Area Studies, SMES APT
Office Address: Witte Singel-complex
Matthias de Vrieshof 3
2311 BZ Leiden
Room number 0.06b


Telephone number: +31 (0)70 800 9543
E-mail address: priya@lucresearch.nl
Faculty / Department: Faculteit der Geesteswetenschappen, Leiden Institute for Area Studies
  Campus Den Haag, Leiden University College
Office address: Campus Den Haag (LV 44), Manor 1.3
  Lange Voorhout 44
2514 EG, Den Haag

Fields of interest

Anthropology of religion
Social history of religion
Post-colonial studies
Critical theory
Contemporary Hinduism in the diaspora
Comparative philosophy

PhD research

A Disobedient Diaspora: Living Hinduism in Osdorp, Amsterdam
Supervisors: Chris Goto-Jones and Nira Wickramasinghe

My project explores the religious lives of a Surinamese Hindu community practicing in Amsterdam at the Sri Radha Krishna Mandir from an interdisciplinary perspective. Making use of original ethnographic fieldwork, comparative philosophy, and social history, I aim to examine closely the migration trajectory of Hindus into Suriname as well as into the Netherlands while also drawing scholarly attention to the Surinamese diaspora as a vibrant site of living Hinduism.

I begin by challenging the established projections of ‘Hinduness as Indianness’ inscribed by colonial officials, missionaries and contemporary Hindu nationalists worldwide who pinpoint India as Hinduism’s authentic homeland--this connection between Indianness and Hinduness has also been used to politically and socially isolate people in India who are not identified as ‘Hindus’. In order to engage in what Walter D. Mignolo calls epistemic disobedience and counter such projections of what it means to be Hindu, my project calls into question the very idea of a homeland when studying the Hindu diaspora by building on the idea of ‘diaspora’ as a mode of consciousness rather than a spatio-temporal location.

By examining non-dual philosophy from the school of Hindu Advaita (absolute non-dualism) and critically connecting it to theories of being in the post-colonial and postmodern tradition, I argue that the Hindu philosophical tradition itself does not differentiate ‘home’ from ‘diaspora’--nor does it differentiate ‘authentic’ from ‘inauthentic’ forms of Hindu practice and belief.

As well as a philosophical critique, my work is an ethnographic study that explores how practitioners conceive of the link between Hinduism and a geographic homeland.

As well as field work in Amsterdam, my project will take me to the Nickerie region and Paramaribo in Suriname.

CV

2007—Bachelor of Arts: Religious Studies (minor in Philosophy), McGill University, Montreal Canada

2010—Research Master’s: Area Studies (Asia), Leiden University, Leiden, The Netherlands
Thesis: The Mirror of Desire: Hindu Tantrism in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries

2010-2011—Instructor, Leiden University College the Hague, The Hague, The Netherlands
Courses Taught: Academic English: Peace and Sustainability

2011-2012—Admissions Board, Leiden University College the Hague, The Hague, The Netherlands

2011-2012—Research Officer, Leiden University College the Hague Research Centre, The Hague, The Netherlands

Publications

“Interrogating Duality: Towards an Advaitic Framework of Diasporic Hinduism” in Religion, Identity and Conflict: Conference Proceedings. Tokyo: Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, 2010.

Forthcoming. “One Language is Not Enough: The Use of Sanskrit among Surinamese Hindus in Amsterdam” in Language as a Way of Salvation, Rome: University of Rome La Sapienza, 2012.

Conferences

August 2009: Religion, Identity, Conflict. “Interrogating Duality: Towards an Advaitic Framework of Diasporic Hinduism”. Presented at Leiden University, Leiden, The Netherlands

May 2011: Root Causes of Terror: Religious Studies Perspective. “Love is Flesh and Blood: Violence in South Indian Devotional Hinduism”. Presented at Leiden University, Leiden, The Netherlands

September 2011: Asiatica Conference: Language as a Way of Salvation Panel. “One Language is Not Enough: The Use of Sanskrit Among Hindus in Amsterdam”. Presented at  University of Rome La Sapienza, Rome, Italy.

(upcoming) May 2012: Barbarism Revisited. “Re-appropriating the Hindu Barbarian”. Presented at Leiden University, Leiden, The Netherlands.

Last Modified: 20-03-2015