“Race, Religion, and the Political Incorporation of Contemporary Immigrants”
Indian Americans are becoming politically active. What is particularly striking about this group is that they have mobilized around a variety of identities to influence U.S. policy. Some identify as Indian Americans, others as South Asians, and yet others on the basis of religious identity as Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, and Christians. A growing group identifies in terms of their party affiliation as Democrats and Republicans. There is also an adult, second-generation population that is getting involved in civic and political activism in very different ways than from their parents’ generation.
Using a case study of Indian Americans, Prema Kurien, Professor of Sociology at the Maxwell School of Syracuse University and Dr Thomas Tam Visiting Professor at CUNY for 2014-15, will examine how race and religion interact to shape the political mobilization of contemporary immigrants. Her research focused on a variety of Indian American advocacy organizations and found that differing understandings of race, as well as majority/minority status in India and in the United States, produced much of the variation in the patterns of civic and political activism of the various groups.
Prema Kurien is Professor of Sociology at the Maxwell School of Syracuse University, where she is also the Founding Director of Asian/Asian American Studies. She is Dr Thomas Tam Visiting Professor at CUNY for 2014-15. Her recent research focuses on race and ethnic group relations, as well as the role of religion in shaping group formation and mobilization among contemporary ethnic groups. She has received postdoctoral fellowships and grants from the National Science Foundation, The Woodrow Wilson International Center, the Carnegie Corporation, the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, the Pew Charitable Trusts, the Center for the Study of Religion at Princeton University, the American Institute of Indian Studies, the Louisville Institute, and the New Ethnic and Immigrant Congregations Project. Her work has been recognized with a Contribution to the Field award, two national book awards, and three national article awards.
The Religion and Politics in American Public Life lecture series, co-coordinated for 2014-15 by Professors Courtney Bender, Jean Cohen, Josef Sorett, and John Torpey, is a series of public conversations that explore the often contentious role of religion in American political and public life. Each session features a speaker presenting on a timely, topical intersection of religion with American politics and society, such as civil religion, public discourses of morality, and reproductive and sexual rights.
The series is jointly sponsored by the Institute for Religion, Culture, and Public Life; the PhD Program in Sociology at the Graduate Center, CUNY; the Department of Political Science at Columbia University; and the Department of Religion at Columbia University.
For a list of previous speakers and topics, see ircpl.org/americanpubliclife. All talks in this series are free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.