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South Asian Diaspora International Researchers’ Network

August 1, 2017

Network members may be interested in a new South Asian Diaspora International Researchers’ Network, set-up by Monash University, Australia. Information here.

Many thanks to Niru Perera for bringing this to our attention.


New articles on religiosity among Tamil Hindu youths in Norway

August 1, 2017

Network member Hildegunn Valen Kleive has recently published two articles (one in English and another in Norwegian) looking at religiosity among young Tamil Hindus in rural Norway.

The first (in English), ‘Belonging and Discomfort: Young Hindu Religiosity in Rural Norway’ is published in the Nordic Journal of Religion and Society and may be accessed here.

The second ‘Mestring og balanse. Trekk ved ung hindureligiøsitet’ is published in Prismet and may be accessed here. An English translation will follow at a later date.

If other network members have news that they would like to share via this blog, please email Demelza at

PhD thesis – Talking Tamil, Talking Saivism: Language practices in a Tamil Hindu temple in Australia

August 1, 2017

Network member Nirukshi (Niru) Perera has completed her PhD at the School of Languages, Literatures, Cultures and Linguistics, Monash University (Melbourne, Australia). Many congratulations Niru!

The thesis  – Talking Tamil, Talking Saivism: Language practices in a Tamil Hindu temple in Australia – is available to read here.


Hinduism is growing in its influence and significance both in Australia and internationally. The development of India as a superpower and the rise of Hindu nationalism in India are indicators of this growing influence.

In Australia all censuses since 2001 point to Hinduism as the fastest-growing non-Christian religion yet the phenomena of Hinduism in Australia is relatively under researched. Furthermore, non-white immigration and multiculturalism are once more under the spotlight in Australia with the government’s proposed changes to the English language requirements for citizenship, and with the recent release of the 2016 census results. The figure for the number of people who speak Tamil at home has grown by 45% since the 2011 census, and is now approximately 74,000 people. This means that for the part of the Australian population that speaks a language other than English at home, Tamil is the 13th top language.

Therefore, this research is a timely report on the experiences of Sri Lankan migrants and a focus on the role that language and religion play in their lives in Australia and in the formation of identities for the second- and third- generation. In fact, this is the first thesis to focus on the Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora in Australia.

Niru conducted an ethnographic study in a Tamil Hindu temple to investigate what languages are used in the temple space and to show how the temple, as a religious institution, is helping migrants to maintain and transmit the Tamil language and Saiva religion to the next generation.

The study found that the temple has a positive influence on the development of young Tamils’ religious, ethnic and linguistic identities and it provides a safe space for children to use Tamil in a new way. This new way is termed “translanguaging” and it allows for children to use all their languages often resulting in speech that mixes Tamil and English. While English is generally their stronger language, their use of Tamil in translanguaging is evidence of the significant influence of their heritage religion and culture in their contemporary Australian lives.

If other network members have any news they would like to share via this blog, please contact Demelza on

PILC Tamil language summer school

March 8, 2017

I’ve received the following correspondence from the organisers of the annual Tamil language summer school for researchers, held in Puducherry, South India:

Dear Sir/Madam

PILC is organising Tamil Summer School 2017 (TSS-2017) from 31 July to 09 September. The brochure  and application form have been attached. The information on TSS-2017 may kindly be displayed for notice and also forwarded to those who are interested in participating in the Tamil Summer School – 2017.
With regards
(Dr. S. Bakthavatsala Bharathi)

New book – ‘Sri Lanka: The Struggle for Peace in the Aftermath of War’

January 10, 2017

Please see the following message from Daniel Bass which may be of interest to network members.

I am proud to announce the publication of Sri Lanka: The Struggle for Peace in the Aftermath of War, edited by Amarnath Amarasingham and myself, and featuring contributions from a multi-disciplinary group of scholars from South Asia, Europe and North America. The paperback is now available from Hurst in the UK ( or Oxford University Press in the US (

Even though Sri Lanka’s protracted civil war came to a bloody conclusion in May 2009, prospects for a sustainable peace remain uncertain. The Sri Lankan army is no longer waging military campaigns and the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) are no longer carrying out political assassinations and suicide attacks, yet structural violence continues, and has arguably intensified since the war’s end. Anti-Tamil discrimination, anti-Muslim violence, and Sinhala Buddhist majoritarianism all increased in the war’s aftermath, as President Mahinda Rajapakse’s government invoked its military victory over the LTTE to silence any opposition. The election of Maithripala Sirisena as president in January 2015 began to alleviate some of the worst of these post-war abuses of power, but many long-term problems will take longer to solve.
This book brings together scholars in the fields of anthropology, sociology, history, law, religious studies and diaspora studies to critically engage issues such as post-war development, constitutional reform, ethnic and religious identity, transnational activism, and transitional justice. Through an interdisciplinary approach to post-war Sri Lanka, this volume examines the intractable and complex issues that continue to plague this war-torn island.
Daniel Bass
Manager, South Asia Program, Cornell University
Treasurer, American Institute for Sri Lankan Studies

‘Hinduism Today’ article on Tamil Saivism in London

November 16, 2016

This article is from a while back as it was sent to me while I was in maternity leave. I helped the authors (Ramai and Vatshalan Santhirapala) a little bit with background information and they have given their permission to share the article. The ‘tube map’ of London temples is rather nice.


Article by network member Giuseppe Burgio – ‘When Interculturality faces a Diaspora. The Transnational Tamil Identity’

November 7, 2016
Here is a new article (in English) by network member, Giuseppe Burgio of the University of Enna “Kore”, Italy.
2016: ‘When Interculturality faces a Diaspora. The Transnational Tamil Identity’, Encylopaideia. XX(44): 106-128
Abstract: The Sri Lankan Tamils of the diaspora are a model of a transnational identity.
From the theoretical point of view, Tamil identity challenges our mental habits and intercultural theory. If the Tamil diaspora tend to be distinguished both from the motherland and from Western, multicultural societies, then interculturality ceases to indicate a relationship between two poles, but becomes a three-pole connection, which includes the country of origin, the country of destination, and the diasporic community. The consciousness of these diasporic dynamics forces us to re-think our theoretical framework about interculturality, going beyond our actual approach based on nationally-defined concepts of society and culture. Overall, diasporas can be an excellent observation field of all transnational dynamics and through diasporas we can learn not concentrating on the migrants / residents dichotomy but focusing on people, their movements crossing national boundaries, and their specific needs.