Shankar, Shobana

Shobana Shankar will be Keynote speaker at Plenary I on Tuesday, 8 June 2021. For more information, please click here.

Renunciation: Practices for a Post-Prosperity and Pandemic Age

Asceticism is an ancient practice in many communities, but how does it become reimagined in times of material insecurity? This presentation explores lives of modern renunciates living in the midst of bustling cities, focusing on the Global South where self-denial has received far less attention than the orientation towards prosperity. The choice to renounce worldly possessions is shaped by factors such as gender, age, and occupation as well as considerations such as communal housing and food-sharing that reveal the social and cultural factors that make sustainable practices ultimately local, personal, and pious acts.

Shobana Shankar is Associate Professor of History at Stony Brook University. Her research focuses on cultural encounters and politics in West Africa and Africa-India networks, especially in religion, trade, health, and education. She is author of Who Shall Enter Paradise? Christian Origins in Muslim Northern Nigeria, c.1890-1975 (Ohio University Press) and An Uneasy Embrace: Africa, India and the Spectre of Race (Hurst, 2021) She has co-edited a book on religion and globalization (with Afe Adogame) and one on SIM, formerly Sudan Interior Mission. She is founder and co-editor of the new book series, African Religions, Social Realities (Ohio University Press).


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Stony Brook University


Download the abstract: shobana-shankar_abstract.pdf