Site menu:


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.

Susan McNaughton

Graduate Student
Department of Anthropology
York University

Sacralization of Space:
Gender and Kinship in South Indian Temple Ritual
Saturday, June 2nd | 9:30 - 11:30 AM

The Tamil-speaking Hindu diaspora constitute an important and unique force in Canadian culture. Temple-based practices articulate the ways in which issues of gender, ethnicity and religion find expression within the local and transnational Tamil Hindu community. Because gender differences play a central role in worship practices Hinduism offers a rich resource for the examination of gender and kinship practices. Based on fieldwork at the first Tamil temple built in Canada, this paper explores the local worship practices of a Tamil community in Toronto mediated by a commemorative event in honour of the Alwars, Tamil poet-saints. The worship practices of the Tamil community in Toronto produce and reproduce spheres of politics, ideology and custom which contribute to the local understandings of tradition and community built from displacement.

Ms. McNaughton returned to academic study after a teaching and performing career in dance. She completed an M.A in Social Anthropology, York University on the local worship practices of a diasporic Srivaishnava community in Toronto, Canada and the ways such practices interrupt modes of religious belonging that rely on caste, class and gender affiliations. Her current research focus is on the ways in which a religious public sphere, created and maintained through pilgrimage, intersects with the spheres of politics, ideology and activism in Tamil Nadu.