Lost Horizons: Histories and Memories of Unsettlement in the Jain Diaspora

01 November 2023 → 31 October 2026
Regional and community funding: Special Research Fund
Research disciplines
  • Humanities
    • Modern and contemporary history
    • Theology and religious studies not elsewhere classified
  • Social sciences
    • Anthropology of religion
    • Ethnicity and migration studies
    • Sociology of religion
Biography and Travel Literature Memory and Migration Jainism
Project description

Lost Horizons presents an investigation of the history of Jainism and of the Jains that put down roots in Zanzibar, Aden, and Uganda, from the formation of these communities to the geopolitical upheavals that led to their dissolution. It also brings an exploration of the way these abandoned locations continue to affect the lives, preoccupy the minds, and  kindle the imaginations of contemporary Jains, touching upon such topics as shared memory, post-memory, heritage, and examining the continued influence of migration history in contemporary organizational and societal structure. The main sources for this investigation are travelogues and (auto-)biographies written when the communities were still thriving, accounts in different forms produced from memory after the locations had been abandoned, and a selection of interviews with Jains with a relevant migration background.

Lost Horizons will thus contribute materially to the academic study of the history and sociology of Jainism as it developed and continues to develop outside South Asia, as well as add to the broader field of migration studies, addressing the importance of darkened nodes in religious diasporic networks. Due to its choice of source materials, this project will also contribute to literary studies and memory studies by interrogating the recent boom in remembrance projects as well as memoir and biography writing taking place within the Jain diaspora.