The Annual Durfee Lecture was initiated by a generous gift from Harold A. Durfee and Doris G. Durfee. Held every spring, the series provides our students and colleagues with the opportunity to meet distinguished thinkers.
Brian K. Pennington
Chair, Division of Humanitites; Professor of Religion
Tuesday, April 2, 2013, 2:30 p.m.
Dr. Pennington is a member of the religion faculty at Maryville College, where he teaches courses in Hinduism, the culture and history of South Asia, and the study of religion. He conducts research on religion in colonial India, Hindu-Christian encounter, and also writes about method and theory in the study of religion. Dr. Pennington is the author of Was Hinduism Invented?: Britons, Indians, and the Colonial Construction of Religion (Oxford University Press, 2005), and the editor of Teaching Religion and Violence (Oxford University Press, 2012). Along with Amy Allocco, he is currently completing a third book, Ritual Innovation in South Asia.
Based on fieldwork conducted in Himalayas of the North Indian state of Uttarakhand since 2001, Pennington’s lecture will discuss the recent proliferation of new religious sites, movements, and conflict in the mountainous region Hindus call “Dev Bhumi,” the Land of the Gods. Home to the glacial sources of Hinduism’s most sacred rivers, its most celebrated and inaccessible pilgrimage destinations, and the natural resources for which the expanding economy of India seems to have an insatiable appetite, Uttarakhand has seen a fiercely competitive marketplace of religious entrepreneurism emerge since it was named an independent state in 2000. As expanding tourism and hydroelectric development bring migrants from all over India, ambitious religious leaders and movements have followed, hoping to capitalize on the reputation of the Himalayan mountains as the ancient site of divine self-disclosure and karmic liberation. Pennington’s talk will discuss the challenges that studying religion in the context of the undisguised manipulation of tradition and open conflict entails.
University of Virginia, Charlottesville
Elizabeth H. Monrad Professor of Christian Studies
Harvard Divinity School
Sheep Gone Astray:
The Tragic History of the Religious Right
Professor of American Religious History
Bernard College, Columbia University
Religion and National Conflict: Reflections on Myanmar, Iraq, and Other Current Examples
Professor of the Practice in Religion, Ethnicity, and
International Conflict, Harvard Divinity School;
Fellow of the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard University
Parmenides in the 21st Century
Harold A. Durfee
Department of Philosophy and Religion