Translocal Lives and Religion

Key information

7:00 PM to 8:15 PM
Virtual Event

About this event

Philippe Bornet

You can watch the recording of this event on YouTube .


The SOAS Centre of Yoga Studies is delighted to be hosting an introduction to this fascinating new book, Translocal Lives and Religion , which examines the intellectual trajectories of remarkable individuals who interacted with religious discourses, doctrines or practices in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The book introduces the approach of “connected religion” and invites the study of cross-cultural and “translocal” encounters, with little-known stories of actors such as migrants or expatriates interacting with religious discourses, and of religious leaders producing and propagating beliefs and practices.

Offering both an innovative methodological framework and original cases based on new research, the book will be of interest to scholars of religion, to specialists of South Asia in late modernity and to the broader public. For this event, a number of contributors to the volume will be joining us.

  • Gwilym Beckerlegge will be discussing the many lives of Margaret Noble/Sister Nivedita.
  • Steven Sutcliffe will explore the non-conformist, anti-clerical religious individualism of Dugald Semple.
  • Minyu Zhang will introduce a number of Chinese Indologists who influence Chinese understandings of India to this day.
  • And Brian Bocking will tell the story of “Captain” Charles James William Pfoundes, offering new insights into the complex, lively and contested character of global religious connections in the late 19th century.

Editor Philippe Bornet will discuss the book as a whole, and our host for the event is Maya Burger, Professor of Indian Studies at the Department of Languages and Civilizations of South India at the University of Lausanne, a specialist in the history of ideas in yoga, and the relations between missionaries, travellers and translators from India to Europe and vice versa.

Philippe Bornet is Senior lecturer in South Asian studies at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland. After stays in Tübingen and at the University of Chicago, he completed a PhD on rituals of hospitality in Jewish and Indian normative literature. His current research deals with cultural interactions between India and Europe and missionaries in South India.

Dr Steven Sutcliffe is Senior Lecturer in the Study of Religion at the University of Edinburgh. His publications include Children of the New Age: A History of Spiritual Practices (2003) and (with Ingvild Sælid Gilhus) New Age Spirituality: Rethinking Religion (2013). He is currently completing a monograph for Edinburgh University Press on the Scottish vegetarian journalist, Dugald Semple (1884-1964), within European networks of ‘Life Reform’.

Brian Bocking is Professor emeritus of the Study of Religions, University College Cork, Ireland and formerly Professor of the Study of Religions at SOAS (1999-2007). He has recently published with Alicia Turner (Toronto) and Laurence Cox (Maynooth) The Irish Buddhist: The Forgotten Monk who Faced Down the British Empire (New York: Oxford University Press, 2020).

Gwilym Beckerlegge is a Professor Emeritus in Religious Studies at The Open University, UK. His research has been largely concerned with Swami Vivekananda’s legacy in India but has also included studies of the establishment of Vedanta centres in Europe and the United States.

Maya Burger, University of Lausanne, is presently professor for Indian Studies at the Department of languages and civilizations of South Asia. Her field of specialization is premodern Hindi literature, history of yoga, history of the relations between Europe and India, as well as Indian religions. Recent publications include: Early Modern India. Literatures and Images, Texts and Languages edited by Maya Burger and Nadia Cattoni (Heidelberg: CrossAsia-eBooks, 2019); Religions in Play: Games, Rituals, and Virtual World s, edited by Philippe Bornet and Maya Burger (Zürich: Pano Verlag, 2012). India in Translation through Hindi Literature: A Plurality of Voices , edited by Maya Burger and Nicola Pozza.