Religious practice and the phenomenology of everyday violence in contemporary India

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This article focuses on ‘dread’ in religious practice in contemporary India. It argues that the dread of everyday existence, which is as salient in a biographical temporality as it pervades the phenomenal environment, connects and transfers between religious practices and everyday life in India for the marginalized masses. For such dread, dominant liberal discourses, such as those of the nation, economy, or ego-centric performance, have neither the patience nor the forms to represent, perform, and abreact. Formulated in dialogue with critical theory, phenomenology, and psychoanalytic theory, this article conceives of religious practices in continuum with the economic, social, ethical, and political realms, and the repressions thereof. Focused on a rapidly expanding religious movement in India, it challenges normative discourses of religious practitioners as fundamentalists or reactionaries, and strives to extend the imperatives of recent critical urban ethnography into the domain of religious practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)469-492
Number of pages24
Issue number4
StatePublished - 26 Dec 2014


  • Hinduism
  • Siva
  • death drive
  • dread
  • ethnography
  • everyday violence
  • phenomenology
  • pilgrimage
  • psychoanalysis
  • religious practice


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