Upcoming Events



XVIIIth Congress of the International Association of Buddhist Studies, Toronto, August 20-25, 2017

Centre for South Asian Studies Lectures
A lecture series organized by the CSAS
Kajri Jain, Malavika Kasturi, Ruth Marshall, Srilata Raman, and J. Barton Scott
Religion and the Modern Self: Discussing J. Barton Scott’s Spiritual Despots
A Discussion with Professors Kajri Jain, Malavika Kasturi, Ruth Marshall, Srilata Raman, joined by the author Professor J. Barton Scott
Friday, March 24, 2017 | 4:00PM – 6:00PM
Room 208N – North House, Munk School of Global Affairs, 1 Devonshire Place
Historians of religion have examined at length the Protestant Reformation and the liberal idea of the self-governing individual that arose from it. In Spiritual Despots, J. Barton Scott reveals an unexamined piece of this story: how Protestant technologies of asceticism became entangled with Hindu spiritual practices to create an ideal of the “self-ruling subject” crucial to both nineteenth-century reform culture and early twentieth-century anticolonialism in India. Scott uses the quaint term “priestcraft” to track anticlerical polemics that vilified religious hierarchy, celebrated the individual, and endeavored to reform human subjects by freeing them from external religious influence. By drawing on English, Hindi, and Gujarati reformist writings, Scott provides a panoramic view of precisely how the specter of the crafty priest transformed religion and politics in India.