Vernacular Religion: Varieties of Religiosity in the Nepali Diaspora
According to the 2001 census of Nepal, the population of nearly 23 million was divided between Hindus (80.6%), Buddhists (10.7%), Muslims (4.2%), Kiratis (3.6%), and others. The CNSUK figures for UK-based Nepalis (which allowed dual identities) break down in a very different way: Hindu 41.4%, Buddhist 29.3%, Kirat 10.1%, Hindu-Buddhist 9.2%, Kirat-Hindu 4.9%, Kirat-Buddhist 2.3%, Christian 2.2%, Muslim 0.01%.
Our research, funded by the AHRC-ESRC Religion and Society programme as a Major Research Award 2009-2012, encompasses both individual and collective forms of religious practice. It will examine the lived religious experience of Nepalis in Britain under three separate headings: (1) personal quests for salvation, (2) attempts to build different forms of community, and (3) the propitiation of gods and spirits for help with worldly problems (e.g. illness or other misfortunes). The assumption in Judeao-Christian traditions is that all three types of religiosity will normally be provided by a single system, but there is no reason why this necessarily must be so: in many Asian contexts different ritual and ideological systems provide for each of these three needs. Whether and how far this is so for Nepalis in the UK is what we intend to find out.
Principal Investigator: David Gellner
Co-Investigator: Sondra Hausner
Research Associate: Bal Gopal Shrestha
Team Members from CNSUK: Krishna Adhikari, Chandra Laksamba, Rajubabu Shrestha
We also work closely with other Oxford projects on diaspora, such as the Oxford Leverhulme Diasporas Programme
For some preliminary results of the project, as reported in CNSUK newsletter (in both English and Nepali) 2.1, please click here. For further details of the Nepali diaspora in the UK, please see a new book, Nepalis in the UK: An Overview, which can be ordered for £5 from email@example.com. To listen to Sondra Hausner speaking about the project, please click this link. To listen to and view a lecture by David Gellner about the findings of the project, please click here.
For a short film about the project, please click here.
Major outputs of the project are the two edited volumes Global Nepalis: Religion, Culture, and Community in a New and Old Diaspora (Delhi: OUP, 2018) and Vernacular Religion: Cultural Politics, Community Belonging, and Personal Practice in the UK’s Nepali Diaspora (Kathmandu: Vajra Books; Reading: CNSUK). The latter volume brings together major article outputs of the project that were published elsewhere. It is available in Nepal from Vajra Books and in Europe by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, as well as from well-known on-line booksellers.