European Representations and Indian Responses
Pardubice, Czech Republic, 11-14 October 2011
The third conference was organised in collaboration with the Department for the Study of Religions (Faculty of Arts and Philosophy, University of Pardubice, Czech Republic), under the auspices of Prof. Miroslav Ludwig, Rector of the University of Pardubice and Dr. Štěpánka Fraňková, Mayor of Pardubice and with the support of the Chateau of Pardubice. The conference took place in the beautiful chateau of Pardubice and was attended by scholars from all over the world.
The third conference revolved the following theme:
Over the past decades, many scholars have claimed that the European descriptions of religion and culture in India are particularly European in nature and do not reflect Indian realities. These descriptions, they say, represent India as a pale and erring variant of the West. Reacting to such claims, other scholars have argued that this denies the agency of the Indians, as if Indians had no say in the production of these representations.
Today, a virtual consensus has come into being among scholars that the dominant modern descriptions of Hinduism, Brahmanism, Vedism, Sikhism, Jainism, .... are the result of collaboration between Europeans and Indians. Scholars like Brian Pennington, Phillip Wagoner, Thomas Trautmann and others have characterised this collaboration as a kind of dialogue, a dialogue between people belonging to two different cultures possessing different conceptual frameworks. As Wagoner puts it:
“Whereas the postcolonialists have tended to see native scholars merely as ‘informants’, providing raw data with which active Europeans produced colonial knowledge, the ‘collaborationists’ have instead viewed these indigenous intellectuals as active partners in the process, bringing their own forms of knowledge and epistemic regimes to the dialogue.” (Wagoner 2003, 784)
The results of this dialogue, it is said, are descriptions that contain elements of both sides and are therefore neither entirely European nor entirely Indian. Instead they reflect the conceptual frameworks of both cultures. Or otherwise put, the European descriptions of religion in India were produced through a process of collaboration and dialogue with Indians and hence reflect both European and Indian ways of understanding religion in India.
The third Rethinking Religion in India conference critically examined the implications of this consensus and discussed how it helps us in the study of religion in India. It did this in the in four formats of the conference:
- The Platform Sessions: addressing the question 'Monologue or Dialogue?
- The Roundtable Sessions: The Indian Response.
- Parallel Paper Sessions, on the following themes: The Colonial Construction of Hinduism; The caste system; Secularism in Europe and India; Said and Orientalism: dead or alive?; European Representations of India; What does the modernization of Indian traditions mean?; Islamic mysticism in European and Indian perspective. "How to...?" Workshops: One of the workshops will deal with the question ‘How to teach about the Indian traditions and religions?’ We invite proposals for workshops dealing with this or similar questions.
For more details about the concept and speakers of this conference see the brochure [link naar de pdf]