10 December: ‘Let us live as Hindus’: Temple building processes and the articulation of ‘Hindu hurt’ in Amsterdam Southeast

Modern South Asia Seminar by Priya Swamy, PhD candidate, visiting fellow at the Royal Netherlands Institute for Southeast Asia and the Caribbean (KITLV) in Leiden.


17.00 – 19.00 hrs

Conference room
Huizinga building


In Hindu diasporas, purpose-built temples are seen as symbols of Hindu identity and spaces where religious experiences can be ‘re-created’ in various ways. The focus of this presentation is on the often-tumultuous period prior to the building of Hindu temples in geographic settings where Hindus form a minority. Her talk presents the case study of a temple community in Amsterdam Southeast, where she conducted fieldwork as part of her PhD research. In 2010, this community was asked by the local government to evacuate a temporary space that had been used as a Hindu temple for seventeen years, provoking outrage among Hindus in the neighbourhood.  Looking back from the moment of eviction to the early 1980s, this talk will explore how establishing a purpose-built temple in Amsterdam Southeast was articulated through the lens of ‘Hindu hurt’ (cf. Zavos 2008), and three interrelated narratives: temple building as a human right, as a form of colonial reparation, and as a way to undo years of oppression by ‘other minorities’ in Amsterdam Southeast. This talk will build upon extensive interviews with community actors and a body of correspondence between temple board actors and the local district government between 1982-1996 in connection with recent literature on ‘Hindu campaigning’ in diaspora communities in Europe and the United States.


Priya Swamy is a visiting fellow at the Royal Netherlands Institute for Southeast Asia and the Caribbean (KITLV) in Leiden. She is completing her PhD research on temple building processes in Amsterdam Southeast, and developing a project on active citizenship and Hindu identity at KITLV. She holds a degree in World Religions from McGill University and an MPhil in Asian Studies from Leiden University. She has worked as a lecturer at Leiden University College and Leiden Institute For Area Studies. Her research explores the changing articulations of Hindu identity in relation to public space and focuses primarily on European diaspora communities. Her current research builds upon extensive fieldwork in Amsterdam and Paramaribo, Suriname.

Last Modified: 03-12-2015