Sujata Chaudhary

Picture Sujata Chaudhary

Ph.D. student, Religious Studies, McGill University

Temporary thesis title : Hindu Temples and the State in Himachal Pradesh : Regional Trajectories of Secularization in Colonial- and Post-Colonial India

My doctoral research focuses on understanding the regional interactions between religion and state in Colonial and Post-Colonial India. Through a comparative-historical examination of varied historical trajectories of state-religion relations my project identifies different regional factors that have implications for post-colonial context. Factors such as encounters with the colonial administration, colonial policies regarding Hindu temples, wealth associated with Hindu temples, and authority of regional kings etc., are important in this regard. My research focuses on two historical processes; bureaucratization and judicialization, that developed under the colonial administration. My project maintains that these important processes unfolded differently in specific regions across India and subsequently incorporated in the post-colonial context. Given the ambiguity with respect to judicial and bureaucratic interventions in terms of boundaries and claims in the religious matters, my project focuses on northern state of Himachal Pradesh in the Himalayas. As a former princely state, the state intervention in religious matters in Himachal Pradesh are relatively recent that makes it an interesting case to examine the peculiarities of regional histories in understanding the state-religion relations in India.

Supervisor : Prof. Samuel Nelson

Keywords : Hinduism, Legislation, Bureaucracy, Secular law courts, Colonial and Independent India, Secularization, Secularity, Secularism