Ethnographic Approaches: Contextual religious cosmopolitanisms in Mumbai
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Original versionIn: Day, K., & Edwards, E.M. The Routledge Handbook of Religion and Cities. 2020 https://doi.org/10.4324/9780429351181
Based on material collected in a research project on the role of religion in the everyday life of selected Mumbai neighborhoods, this chapter begins by discussing the various stages of field research and the factors leading to a diversification of the project’s initial objectives. Moving from the question of interreligious perception and communication to the wider field of everyday multiculturalism shifted the focus of the project to the ways in which individuals perceive their culturally diverse surroundings, and to the various degrees of engagement with culturally different others. The inquiry into the self-positioning of individuals in mixed-cultural urban settings resulted in descriptions of specific variants of cosmopolitanism. Two case studies included in the second part of the chapter illustrate the complexity of individual stances with regard to cultural differences in Mumbai. These attitudes often encompassed both openness and moments of uncertainty in instances of intercultural encounters. The instability of individual cosmopolitan claims observed during fieldwork played out in various ways, and was always eclectic, relational, and contextual.
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