The Religion, Secularism, and Political Belonging Project at the Portland Center for Public Humanities presents Dr. Pankaj Jain on Thursday, May 22 for a presentation on "Cultures of Sustainability, Sustainability of Cultures" at the Parson's Gallery on the second floor of the Urban Center (506 SW Mill Street) at Portland State University. The lecture is free and open to the public, and begins at 4:00 pm.
In Indic religious traditions, a number of rituals and myths exist in which the environment is revered. Despite this nature worship in India, its natural resources are under heavy pressure with its growing economy and exploding population. This has led several scholars to raise questions about the role religious communities can play in environmentalism. Does nature worship inspire Hindus to act in an environmentally conscious way? This talk explores this question with three communities, the Swadhyaya movement, the Bishnoi, and the Bhil communities. Presenting the texts of Bishnois, their environmental history, and their contemporary activism; investigating the Swadhyaya movement from an ecological perspective; and, exploring the Bhil communities and their Sacred Groves, Dr. Jain applies a non-Western hermeneutical model to interpret the religious traditions of Indic communities.
Dr. Jain is an assistant professor of Anthropology and Philosophy & Religion Studies at the University of North Texas. He is the author of Dharma and Ecology of Hindu Communities: Sustenance and Sustainability (May 2011), which won the 2012 DANAM Book Award and the 2011 Uberoi Book Award, and is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology and the Department of Philosophy & Religion Studies. He has published articles in journals such as Religious Studies Review, Worldviews, Religion Compass, Journal of Vaishnava Studies, Union Seminary Quarterly Review, and the Journal of Visual Anthropology. He also contributes to the Huffington Post, Washington Post’s forum On Faith, Times of India’s Speaking Tree, and Patheos. Currently, he is working on a monograph on Dharma and Science and editing a volume on Asian Philosophies for the Study of Religion and Anthropology.
His research, supported by a Fulbright Fellowship in 2012, and teaching interests include Religion and Ecology, Asian Diaspora, and Sustainability of Religious Communities in Americas. Interested in connecting ancient practices with contemporary issues, he is exploring the connections between religious traditions and sustainability in the USA and in India. He has helped two temples in the Dallas area to get grants from their energy company to help them make more sustainable and energy efficient.