SOAS University of London

SOAS South Asia Institute

‘Everybody needs a tribe’

‘Everybody needs a tribe’
Sanderien Verstappen

Date: 18 January 2019Time: 3:30 PM

Finishes: 18 January 2019Time: 4:30 PM

Venue: Royal Anthropological Institute

Type of Event: Film


Every other year, in an American scouting camp, a unique gathering takes place: the Vohra Families Reunion, a gathering of Gujarati Muslim families, who travel here from all over North America to meet distant relatives and make new acquaintances, and to celebrate their shared origins in the Gujarati Charotar region. The event is an effort to create a community - a ‘tribe’, as participants say - and pass it on to a next generation. In the process, through games, rituals, performances, spatial arrangements, and unexpected encounters, a forest is temporarily transformed into a space of appropriation and inclusion.

This film shows how a community is both created and challenged during the three days of the event. The community’s leaders are reaching the age of retirement and hope that a new generation will take over their tasks. This planned leadership transition raises questions about aims and aspirations. What does the gathering do for different participants? Will younger people be motivated to keep organizing this event in the future? Some are preparing themselves to become new leaders, but they also wish to transform the event in their own ways.


Sanderien Verstappen is a postdoctoral researcher in the Anthropology of Modern South Asia at Leiden University (LIAS), and a fellow at the International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS). She has conducted research and directed ethnographic films in India, China, the UK and the Netherlands, including two earlier films about overseas Gujaratis and their communities of origin in India. For more information:

The event is free to attend but registration essential. Click here to register. 

Contact email:

Contact Tel: +44 (0)20 7898 4390