Civic engagement

A History of the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha in the United States

Bhakti Mamtora
Assistant Professor, Religious Studies, South Asian Studies
The College of Wooster

This project examines the history of the Swaminarayan Sampraday, a Hindu devotional tradition founded by Swaminarayan (1781-1830) at the beginning of the nineteenth century in the western region of India, now known as Gujarat, in North America during the last fifty years. This project expands research on place-making, civic engagement, and religious expansion through the use of ethnographic and archival research methods. By conducting individual and small group interviews and analyzing, newspaper articles, sectarian publications, and religious paraphernalia, this project aims to uncover how individual conceptions and experiences of gender, race, ethnicity, caste, and socioeconomic class inform identity and community formation in the diaspora.

Ethnic Churches and Racial Attitudes: A Comparative Study of Chinese- and Vietnamese-American Congregations in Houston, TX

Bianca Mabute-Louie
Graduate Student, Sociology
Rice Univesity

This research project interrogates the extent to which religion shapes the racial attitudes of Asian American Christians. Christianity influences the ways Asian Americans adapt to the U.S. and their involvement in ethnic churches shapes their perceptions of race and racism. This project interrogates how Chinese- and Vietnamese-American Christians, two of the largest Asian American groups, employ cultural-religious explanations in their conceptualizations of racial discrimination, racial boundaries, and anti-Blackness in this comparative congregational study. Overall, this study aims to contribute to the scholarly conversation on race, religion, immigration, and politics, with public implications on immigration, Asian American civic engagement, and broader movements for racial justice.

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