Organizing Jainism in India and England

Organizing Jainism in India and England

Organizing Jainism in India and England

Organizing Jainism in India and England

Synopsis

This is one of the first book-length studies of the Jains as a migrant group overseas, where they are studied in their own right rather than simply as an ethnic minority. The author describes the religious and caste organizations of the Jains. He also examines the use and transformation of urban space by religious and other groups, and he concludes with comments on the definition of religion and religious identity. The study will be valuable both for its documentation of a small but influential population and for its direct comparison of aspects of communal and religious organization in India and elsewhere.

Excerpt

This book is a revised version of a doctoral thesis I submitted to the University of Cambridge in 1985. I have rewritten the text, adding some material and omitting quite a lot. My interests have changed quite substantially since completing the thesis and, while I have updated many of the references, I have not engaged in an extensive discussion of the most recent literature, particularly that on Asian groups in Britain. So little is known about the Jains, however, that I feel any contribution will be worth while.

The material for the thesis and hence for this book was gathered through library research and fieldwork in the English city of Leicester and the Indian city of Jamnagar, Gujarat State. For a variety of reasons it is pointless to try and disguise these locations, given the specificity of the material, although I have used pseudonyms for individuals and have occasionally blurred some of the details. More details of the fieldwork are given in Chapter I.

People and Places

Individuals in the two cities are linked by ties of kinship and friendship-- indeed, some individuals divided their time more or less equally between the two places--but there were no administrative or other links between the organizations I studied in England and those I studied in India. In England, I chose the city of Leicester because I had been informed that it maintained the only functioning immigrant Jain group in the country with any property and structured organization. In the event, this turned out to be not entirely true, but fieldwork was far easier to conduct in Leicester than it would have been in London, for example. While I was in Leicester I chose the city of Jamnagar in Saurashtra (Gujarat) to conduct my parallel study. This decision was partly a result of the size and location of the city, but mostly because of the numerous contacts I could make there through my Leicester informants. Perhaps other towns in Gujarat would have been equally well suited to the study but given the limited amount of time available it seemed wisest to chose one where I could begin work as quickly as possible.

The subjects of my study in both cities were all Gujaratis, and all . . .

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