#Pedagogy moment --

I'm teaching History of Hinduisms (plural intentional) this term. For the final paper, I give students 4 options.

This accords with my general emphasis that students should work on topics they care about. Interest (if possible, passion) are critical. #THREAD
Option 1. Close reading of a specific text

I give students a list of possible texts (from the Rig Veda forward). We read excerpts over the semester from most of the texts on the list. Students can return to a text that caught their eye, read more, and analyze.
Option 2. Traditional research paper

Pick a topic, any topic, at all related to Hinduism and write a paper about it. This can be a subject we covered in class that caught a student's attention. It can also be a subject that we didn't cover in the class (which is a lot, always).
Option 3. Creative Rewriting

Pick a Hindu story we read (most likely, part of one of the epics) and rewrite it, thus participating in the grand tradition of retelling. This is to be accompanied by a short explanation of what the student changed and why.
For context on #3 -- We encounter a few different versions of the Ramayana in class and also, of course, read Ramanujan's classic essay "Three Hundred Ramayanas." We discuss the fluid nature of many Hindu stories, and what changes might tell us.
Option 4. Textbook

Student becomes the teacher. Write a textbook entry on Hinduism, specifying whether it is aimed at elementary, middle school, or high school students. Bonus points for doing a proper textbook layout with images.
For context on #4, we read in class about the California textbook controversies and talked about various perspectives and arguments regarding the representation of Hinduism in the United States.
I created this and other assignments to be interesting, hopefully. I also want students to be able to draw on their strengths and develop skills they're interested in developing. Critically, assignments must be doable within the given time frame.

#AcademicTwitter #Hinduism

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More from @AudreyTruschke

13 Apr
Here we have a board member of the Hindu American Foundation -- known to promote Hindutva ideology in the US -- employing aa anti-Semitic trope to attack the authors of a recent opinion piece on human rights abuses in India.

Links in the #THREAD
On the anti-Semitism of attacks on Soros and his philanthropic work: adl.org/blog/the-antis…
On Hindu nationalists' use of anti-Semitic ideas, language, and tropes: indiaabroad.com/anti-semitism-…
Read 5 tweets
12 Apr
At my talk earlier today on the Doha Ramayana, there were some questions we didn't have time to answer. So, a #THREAD of Q and A here.

Image is the opening page of this magnificent manuscript, now at the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar. #Ramayana #Mughal #Persian Image
Q: Is there any evidence of struggle in translation from Sanskrit into Farsi. Are there cases when they couldn't find equivalents so used the Sanskrit words in Farsi?
A: There are lots of Sanskrit terms retained and transliterated in the Akbari Ramayan, including the Doha manuscript.

Usually, I think it was an aesthetic choice, to retain something of the flavor of the original (mediated through vernacular Hindi pronunciation).
Read 13 tweets
6 Apr
Huge and important question. Academics have a wide variety of tools designed to deal with this. An impromptu #THREAD
One, you have to identify possible biases. This involves knowing, a lot, about the history of ideas, one's particular disciplines, one's areas of study, etc.

Often, biases have gone, well, sort of transnational and across identity boundaries. One example --
How we define religion, often, carries extensive Protestant biases. You may never have set foot inside a church and you may know nothing about Christianity, but you probably have these biases due to their widespread diffusion.

Those of us who work on religion learn & teach this.
Read 12 tweets
13 Mar
This sort of sentiment reflects a common misunderstanding about the academic study of religion.

So, let's do what we do as scholars -- Treat this as a teachable moment.

A short #THREAD
We want to distinguish two different contexts --

Practicing a religion.
Academically studying a religion.

There is overlap in the sense that practitioners can also engage in the academic study of their religion. But the two contexts are different, with distinct precepts.
First -- Practitioners. Most people encounter religion in in this context, at temple, in church, at mosque, or in home practices.

Commonly (although far from always), there is an assumption to have a voice in this context, you should be a member of the given religious group.
Read 12 tweets
13 Mar
As @YashicaDutt has won the Sahitya Akademi Yuva Puraskar 2020 literary award for her memoir "Coming Out As Dalit," a short #THREAD on what really stuck me with me after reading the book.
The main story is very compelling. Yashica narrates her relationship to her caste identity, in detail, over decades. She puts her story in a broader social context.

What still plays in my mind today is her discussion of #Ambedkar.
I went into the book knowing a lot about #Ambedkar. I've read many of his writings. I teach about Ambedkar, including his fraught relationship with Gandhi, his religious ideas, his role in crafting the Indian constitution, his legacies today, and more.
Read 5 tweets
6 Mar
So, folks, education is really important. Otherwise, you keep yourself ignorant and, even worse, perpetuate hateful ideas.

In this #THREAD are topics that some people seem confused about recently with resources for those who want to fix their ignorance.
The nexus -- uncomfortable for so many of us -- between Hindu nationalism and white supremacy. Yes, that's a real thing. One take on that here: asiatimes.com/2019/12/bigotr…
another take, delving into a slightly deeper past (although not that far into the past because Hindu nationalism is a pretty recent phenomenon, historically-speaking): aljazeera.com/opinions/2018/…
Read 12 tweets

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