Thursday, December 5, 2013

[Upcoming Seminar] Women Taking Charge of Religion in the Indian Diaspora

Women Taking Charge of Religion in the Indian Diaspora

Speaker: Annapurna Devi Pandey
(Lecturer, University of California, Santa Cruz)
Time: 11:30 a.m., Thursday, 12 December 2013
Venue: Room 401, Humanities Building, New Asia College, CUHK

For the last two decades, I have been studying South Asian diaspora in the United States. Based on my longitudinal fieldwork, I have produced a documentary on the Odia diaspora in the Greater Bay Area (Homeland in the Heart) and am giving finishing touches to another one on the life giving ritual of the Jagannath, the patron deity of Odisha (Giving Life to God: The Installation of Lord Jagannath in the Fremont Hindu Temple). I have discovered that in the diasporic context, both men and women are redefining their gender roles. In this paper, I will focus on women’s subjectivity and self-empowerment through the performance of Durga Puja, the celebration of a popular Hindu Mother goddess.

Since the 1990s, there has been a dramatic shift in the population of Indian Americans in the Greater Bay Area known as Silicon Valley and it has grown exponentially (46.4%) in the last decade. The largest number of Indian Americans live in San Jose area and in the recent past, Fremont has become the second largest hub surpassing Los Angeles. Professional Odias have contributed to this swelling number in the Greater Bay Area. Odias from Southeastern India constitute a distinct immigrant community of a thousand middle class professionals, spread throughout the Silicon Valley. Since the 1990s when I moved to the Bay Area, I have been observing the diasporic Odia community of this region. I have published papers on various aspects of their life and have extensively worked on the diasporic Odia men and women and how they have adapted and adjusted to their new life and land in the USA.


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