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The conference will host over 40 scholars of various disciplines from North America, Europe, South Asia, and Australasia:


Artist: Vasuki
Artist: Kiko
Artist: Vasan

Abraham, S.
Ambalavanar, D.
Arasu, V.
Champakalakshmi, R.
Cheran, R.
Fukao, J.
George, G.
George, U.
Ghose, R.
Guruge, S.
Jegathesan, M.
Kanaganayakam, C.
Kanthasamy, P.
Karunakaran, K.
Karunanithi, G.
Kingsolver, A.
Mason, R.
Maunaguru, S.
Maunaguru, Sitralega
McNaughton, S.
More, J.B.P.
Orr, L.
Pai, G.
Palaniappan, S.
Pandian, M.S.S.
Rajesh, V.
Renganathan, V.
Sangarasivam, Y.
Seylon, R.
Shanmugam, K.
Sivalingam, H.
Sriramachandran, R.
Sundar, A.
Tambiah, S.J.
Tyyskä, V.
Vaitheespara, R.
Vivekananthan, P.
Whitaker, M.
Xavier, S.
Young, K.
Younger, P.

Rajeshwari Ghose

Research Fellow
Centre of Asian Studies
University of Hong Kong

Parochial Communities in Tamilnadu:
A Study of the Process of Appropriation or Subversion of Tamilness

This paper will study the rise of two communities within the larger fold of Tamil Hindu Traditions. One community, that of the Madhyanna Brahmanas survived for well over a thousand years, despite its temporary ostracisation by the orthodox Tamil Brahmins. It finally faded away by the 1980s and today remains only in the historical memories of scholars. The last veteran to fight on their behalf died in the early 1980s. The other community that of the Sri Vidya practioners is a living community with a large following amongst both the Brahmins and non-Brahmins of Tamilnadu, albeit with different slants in practices between communities.

This paper will investigate the origin of these two communities, the myths that surround their origins and explore the processes of “conceptualization, appropriation and subversion “ that accounted for the fading away of one community and the active life of the other. In so doing it will examine the relationship between a dominant culture and the so-called subaltern culture and note the mechanisms of survival. In the process of enquiry it will also discuss the traditional manner of institutionalizing protest by incorporation into a ritual honours system. It will discuss specific forms of institutionalizing such as the yanaierumperumparaiyan in the context of the Tiruvarur temple.

Dr. Ghose has taught in Universities in several countries and retired as Associate. Professor from the University of Hong Kong in 2000. She has written and edited with contributed chapters to several books including, Tyagaraja Cult in Tamilnadu: A Study in Conflict and Accommodation, Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi, 1996, In the Footsteps of the Buddha: An Iconic Journey from India to China (Ed), HKU, 1998, Magische Gotterwelten: Worke aus Dem Museum fur Indische Kunst Berlin, with Yaldiz, et al, SMPK, Berlin, 2000, In Quest of a Secular Symbol: Ayodhya and After (Ed), Perth, Curtin University, 1996, Design and Development in South and South East Asia (Ed), Hong Kong:, University of Hong Kong, 1990, Protest Movements in South and South East Asia, (Ed), Hong Kong: University of Hong Kong, 1986. Her current research interests are Religion and Society in Tamilnadu in the Pre-Modern Period and Buddhist Art and Religion Along the Silk Road.