Accepted Paper:

The community of Westerners in Varanasi: lifestyle of change, community of continuity  

Author:

Mari Korpela (Tampere University)

Paper short abstract:

The community of Westerners in Varanasi, India, is fluid and temporary, as people stay only for a few months at a time. Yet, the community clings to permanent practices – even stagnation. In my paper I discuss manifestations and contradictions of change and continuity in the life of the community.

Paper long abstract:

There is a community of Westerners in Varanasi, India. These Westerners return to Varanasi year after year but none of them stay there permanently -in between they go to their home countries to earn money. Change is an essential part of their transnational lifestyle, yet, while in Varanasi, these people form a community where they maintain fixed practices and standard ways of thinking and behaviour. The practices of the community in Varanasi clearly represent continuity although the community itself is fluid and temporary. In my paper, I discuss the manifestations and contradictions of change and continuity in the life of this community. I argue that these people cling to permanent practices and continuity -even stagnation- while in Varanasi precisely because their lifestyle is so fluid and mobile.

Panel W017
Problems of continuity and change