Hindus and Others: A Sri Lankan Perspective

  • Mathieu Claveyrolas Centre for South Asian Studies (EHESS/CNRS)
  • Anthony Goreau-Ponceaud University of Bordeaux, UMR 5115 LAM, "Sciences Po" Bordeaux
  • Delon Madavan Centre d'études de l'Inde et l'Asie du Sud (EHESS/CNRS)Centre d'études et de recherche de l'Inde, l'Asie du Sud et sa diaspora (UQAM)
  • Éric Meyer Centre d’Etudes de l’Inde et de l’Asie du Sud (CNRS/EHESS)
  • Pierre-Yves Trouillet French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), UMR 5319 "Passages"


Who is a Hindu? was the famous subtitle chosen by Savarkar for his nationalist pamphlet founding the Hindutva ideology in 19231. We know about the legal difficulties faced by the British (among others) to define Hindus and Hinduism, and the resulting solution, which defined being Hindu by default: being Hindu meant not being Muslim, nor Christian, nor Sikh, nor Buddhist, nor anything else. This is a rather extreme example of the necessity to define the Other when it comes to defining oneself (Mohammad-Arid & Ripert 2014).

Following a workshop held in Paris in 20152, the purpose of this special issue is to start from the Sri Lankan case to study how Hinduism and Hindus define others and interact with them, and what these interactions reveal about Hinduism in general and about Sri Lankan Hinduism in particular, especially regarding religious, social, political and territorial issues. By addressing relations to the Other from the Hindu point of view, the issue proposes more broadly to develop a critical conception of Hinduism that considers this religion as a point of contact between various social and religious groups. Indeed, we argue that questioning the importance of these multiple realities of contact, whether they are recognised or denied, also helps to renew the debate about the challenges of defining Hinduism, articulated by both Hindus and scholars.

How to Cite
Claveyrolas, M., Goreau-Ponceaud, A., Madavan, D., Meyer, Éric, & Trouillet, P.-Y. (2018). Introduction. The South Asianist, 6(1), 22. Retrieved from