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Becoming a 'Faith Community': British Hindus, Identity, and the Politics of Representation

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This article offers an historical perspective on the process by which British Hindus have sought to become a 'faith community' in response to local civic pressures and the intensification of government rhetoric on harnessing the capacity of religious bodies in support of public policy, and also as an expression of Hindu nationalist and ecumenical interests. I review my earlier analysis of Hindus in Leeds, noting the four processes of institutionalisation, retraditionalisation, standardisation, and the production of community, and, through Hindu ephemera, consider these same processes for Hindus elsewhere in Britain in the period 1980 to 2006 in the context of the rise of identity politics and the return of religion to public prominence. Although these processes remain relevant, others have emerged, notably the public representation of 'Hinduism,' and the impact of a diasporic politics of Hindutva.


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