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WYSE Series in Social Anthropology
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Becoming Vaishnava in an Ideal Vedic City
204 pages, 16 illus., bibliog., index
ISBN 978-1-78920-609-8 $135.00/£99.00 Hb Published (November 2019)
eISBN 978-1-78920-610-4 eBook
“This book is an important contribution to the ethnographic and theoretical literature. It is very well written and deals with an intrinsically interesting ethnographic context. It is theoretically ambitious in its engagement with the literature on anthropology of ethics.” • Jonathan Mair, University of Kent
“The book offers the first ethnography of the Mayapur phenomenon, presenting an account of its development, of the political and economic issues involved, the conflicts over building and so on, along with an account of the devotees who live there or visit, based on qualitative interviews and participant observation. The lives and aspirations of devotees are brought to life in this book.” • Gavin Flood, University of Oxford
Becoming Vaishnava in an Ideal Vedic City centers on a growing multinational community of ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness) devotees in Mayapur, West Bengal. While ISKCON’s history is often presented in terms of an Indian guru ‘transplanting’ Indian spirituality to the West, this book focusses on the efforts to bring ISKCON back to India. Paying particular attention to devotees’ failure to consistently live up to ISKCON’s ideals and the ongoing struggle to realize the utopian vision of an ‘ideal Vedic city’, this book argues that the anthropology of ethics must account for how moral systems accommodate the problem of moral failure.
John Fahy is an Affiliated Researcher at the Woolf Institute, Cambridge. He has published widely on the anthropology of religion, ethics and interfaith engagement in both India and the Persian Gulf. He is the co-editor of The Interfaith Movement: Mobilising Religious Diversity in the 21st Century (Routledge, 2019), with Jan-Jonathan Bock, and Emergent Religious Pluralisms (Palgrave MacMillan, 2019), with Jan-Jonathan Bock and Samuel Everett.
Subject: Anthropology of Religion Anthropology (General)
List of Illustrations
Notes on Names, Language and Transliteration
Introduction: A Tale of Two Countercultures
Chapter 1. Land of the Golden Avatar
Chapter 2. Changing the Subject
Chapter 3. Practices of Knowledge
Chapter 4. Learning to Love Krishna
Chapter 5. Simple Living, High Thinking
Conclusion: Failing Well
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