Interreligious Interactions in South Asia (Virtual Colloquium)

In attempting to understand the past, and the multiple inheritances of the past in the present, we seem to be caught in a conceptual double bind. On the one hand, present-day or presentist categories cannot be readily projected onto the past which remains something of a strange land in its temporal alterity. On the other hand, since we have to start from where we are already – namely, the present – we cannot dispense completely with the categories we have received. However, precisely this intuitive familiarity may blind us to the ways in which we have become accustomed to employing them in an unreflective manner. In this online series of table talks, we seek to bring together scholars from a wide spectrum of perspectives to inquire into the kinds of critical tools that are currently deployed to probe interreligious interactions in South Asia over the last eight hundred years or so. Through various historical processes—such as the interactions between Sanskritic and non-Sanskritic traditions, particularly after the spread of Islam in South Asia; the rise of paper as the primary mode of textual production; the emergence of Persian traditions; and so on—South Asian communities underwent deep-seated transformations, which ramify throughout various contemporary contexts. A wide variety of terminologies, such as “encounter”, “syncretism”, “third space”, “hybridity”, and “aporia”, have been employed in scholarly spaces to grapple with these patterns of plurality and processes of historical change.

This forum will encourage critical interrogations of these idioms, whilst also cultivating an active attunement to, and immersive engagement with, a diversity of epistemic vantage-points, which are embedded in distinctive experiential terrains and perspectival horizons.

We envision our colloquium to be brainstorming sessions for examining how interreligious interactions are analysed and theorised in diverse disciplines today, and in what ways historical sources and ethnographic data from South Asia elaborate such interactions. Our presenters have pre-circulated reading materials that would be helpful in understanding their arguments.

If you would like to consult these reading materials, please email:

Monday 3 April 2023 (-2nd Week, Trinity Term)

Tuesday 4 April 2023 (-2nd Week, Trinity Term)

Wednesday 5 April 2023 (-2nd Week, Trinity Term)

Thursday 6 April 2023 (-2nd Week, Trinity Term)

Friday 7 April 2023 (-2nd Week, Trinity Term)

Wednesday 12 April 2023 (-1st Week, Trinity Term)

This series features in the following public collections: