This panel seeks to examine the modalities and processes of religious conversion in India with regard to three interconnected levels: the subjective experience of the actors involved, the (inter)group dynamics and the larger political and societal contexts.
This panel seeks to examine modalities of religious conversion in India. Conversion has often been analyzed as a radical and sudden change. While this may be the case this change does not need to be abrupt but can also be gradual. Moreover, conversion does not need to be total, that means involving at the same time and to the same extend belief, practice, life-style and social relationships. It may affect only one or more of these dimensions and to a different degree at different moments in the process of conversion. The panel is not about any particular religion. Rather, the focus is on the processes of changing religious affiliations with regard to three interconnected levels: a) the subjective experience of the actors involved, b) the (inter)group dynamics and, c) the larger political and societal contexts. Pertinent questions thus are: How do these micro, meso and macro levels interact in the processes of conversion? Can we identify different aspects as being crucial in the initial phase of conversion in contrast to the period after conversion? In which way are the general political and societal contexts relevant in this regard? Does, for example, the pressure from the state to become part of the "mainstream" push communities towards changing their religious affiliation? And, do people convert because they feel inferior vis-à-vis a dominant culture or religion? Is it more a conversion toward a new religion, or rather away from an old identity?