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The mobile global subject: mobility and transnationalising Hinduism.

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University of KwaZulu-Natal.


The contemporary global condition is one of heightened movement that positions us in various contexts, in varying degree, as mobile, global subjects; as migrants, as tourists, and as transnational workers. While transnationalism, migrancy, diaspora and mobilities have become buzz words in the social sciences with an explosion of work in the fields of transnational and diaspora studies, and the several issues of transnational and diasporic identities and nation-state, migrant labour, remittances etc., there has been substantially less work done in the field of transnationalised religion. And while the religious identities of the various diasporic communities has received ethnographic and theoretical scrutiny, this has been less the case for itinerant transnationals seen to commute across increasingly porous borders, weaving back and forth between geographic and cultural spaces for the purposes of work. This paper seeks to narrow the gaze on the transnationalised lives of migrant Hindu workers in their attempt to articulate their sense of being Hindu in a transnational context. The first part of the paper argues that the Hindu transnationals are to be understood within a wider discourse of commoditized labour, and against a paradigm of mobilities. The paper shows that the Hindu transnational workers are to be understood as commodities positioned in global consumption in a world where labour is increasingly mobile and flexible. By referring to a particular ethnographic illustration the second part of the paper unveils that this flexibility comes with a price for individuals who wish to continue articulating their religious Hindu identity in a new transnational space. The paper shows that, placed as they are as a kind of global commodity or service product as salon workers, their flexible and mobile context as migrant labourers, forces them to make their religion equally portable and flexible.



Hinduism., Transnationalism., Hinduism--Economic aspects., Religion and society.


Naidu, M. 2008. The mobile global subject: mobility and transnationalising Hinduism. Nidan, 20, 16-30.