IAHR 2025


Vineeta Sinha

Vineeta Sinha is Professor at the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the National University of Singapore. She holds a Masters in Social Science from the National University of Singapore, and a Masters of Arts degree and a PhD from the Johns Hopkins University. Her research interests include Hindu religiosity in the Diaspora, religion, commodification and consumption processes, religion and materiality, religion-state encounters in colonial and post-colonial moments, Eurocentric and Androcentric critique of classical sociological and anthropological canons, decolonizing knowledge production and critical pedagogy. Her publications include A New God in the Diaspora? Muneeswaran Worship in Contemporary Singapore (2005, NUS Press and Nordic Institute of Asian Studies); Religion and Commodification: Merchandising Diasporic Hinduism (2010, Routledge); Religion-State Encounters in Hindu Domains: From the Straits Settlements to Singapore (2011, Springer); Sociological Theory Beyond the Canon (co-authored with Syed Farid Alatas, 2017, Palgrave-Macmillan), Southeast Asian Anthropologies (Co-edited with Eric Thompson, 2019, NUS Press) and Temple Tracks: Labour, Piety and Railway Construction in Asia(2023, Berghahn Books). She isEditorial Board Member of Current Sociology, Co-Editor of the Routledge International Library of Sociology and International Advisory Board Member, Decolonization and Social Worlds Book Series (Bristol University Press).

Keynote lecture

Theorising Religion in Entangled Worlds: Insights from Diaspora Hinduism

Mobilities of persons, deities, ritual objects, institutions, practices and ideologies across geo-political boundaries in colonial and post-colonial moments have been central to my research on Diaspora Hinduism. The notion of ‘interconnected worlds’ has been productive, generative and inspiring as I have thought about interconnectedness in temporal, spatial and conceptual modes. This stance has enabled me to theorise the entanglements that connect widely dispersed Hindu communities in a complex network of interactions across nation-state borders in a capitalist context. I argue that my work carries insights for the study of religion in interconnected societies: one, in recognising the importance of borders/boundaries and deep entanglements across regions, and historical continuities across temporalities; two, in interrogating the category ‘religion’ itself as well as suspending reductionist, conceptual binaries like ‘secular/profane vs sacred/religious’, ‘material vs non-material’; and three, in enfolding fields of scholarship typically bypassed in regnant efforts to study religion – such as infrastructural, commodification and materiality studies, and research which confirms that administrative/bureaucratic processes regulate religious encounters across national boundaries. Collectively, this perspective recognises that convoluted social, cultural, economic and political forces bear down on religious realms globally, and expands the repertoire of conceptual and methodological tools available to students of religion.