JCCC Honors Journal


The purpose of this paper is to analyze the construction of religion and social identity in India. Religion is an incredibly complex social phenomenon and must be examined holistically for a true appreciation of history. This paper follows the idea of authority and legitimacy, why religions are adopted, who designs administrations around them and how those administrations are informed. This ties into an examination of history, how it is written and what purpose that writing serves from a social perspective. This paper also examines how meaning systems coexist and affect each other, and how they in fact evolve together in a reciprocal process of development, and how identities are formed across people, in terms of defining one’s normative characteristics as well as the otherness of outsiders. By trying to envision the perspective of a group by unpacking the meaning system that underpins the group’s understanding, it may be possible to discern the nature of some conflicts. This may also allow for a deeper understanding of why some groups seemingly adopt definitions of themselves that are not conducive to their own history, but rather a functional byproduct of a neighboring group’s understanding. Finally, social divisions are examined from the perspective of observable religious syncretism in India, what factors brought it about, what sustained it, and why it disappears in some cases but not all.

Honors project mentor: Eddie Boucher, Adjunct Professor, History