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Friday, May 20, 2022

Boston University Hindu Students Council to host “Understanding Hinduphobia” Conference on Sunday, April 3, 2022

HSC is proud to announce the 2nd annual Understanding Hinduphobia conference, hosted by HSC at Boston University, on Sunday, April 3rd, 2022. The Understanding Hinduphobia Conference brings together scholars, activists, students, administrators, and allies for an in-depth, cross-disciplinary examination of Hinduphobia. Last year’s conference, held by Hindu Students Council at Rutgers, culminated in the Rutgers University Student Assembly passing a resolution condemning Hinduphobia. This was the first time this has ever happened at any institution in the world.

“Boston, and Boston University, in particular, has long been a vibrant epicenter for Hindu students from all over the world,” said Sawan Patel, President of HSC’s Boston University Chapter. “This landmark event bringing together the leadership teams from various universities, organizations, and outlets to explore how anti-Hindu rhetoric manifests itself in general discourse will be informative for all.”

Hindu students and scholars have experienced the efforts of academics and universities to institutionalize Hinduphobia. This conference is significant since Hinduism, Hindu persecution, and the history of American Hinduphobia are generally underrepresented and misrepresented in mainstream discourse and educational spaces.

The conference aims to introduce participants to critical aspects of global and historical Hinduphobia; to understand the definition of Hinduphobia; and finally, to suggest how institutions can uphold this definition and what happens when they don’t.

“We’ve termed our initiative and this conference ‘Understanding Hinduphobia,’ because Hinduphobia itself is either not seen or misunderstood,” said Dr. Parth Parihar, a co-director of Understanding Hinduphobia and post-doctoral scholar at the University of Rochester. “As Hindus living in the West, it is our dharma to bring the lived experiences of our community to light, and to inform and educate both ourselves and the communities where we live, work, and study about what Hinduphobia actually is.  This year’s conference theme– ‘Documenting and Documented Hinduphobia’–  aims to bring light to anti-Hindu persecution, allowing the facts to speak for themselves.”

“Our mission is to call people into the conversation about Hinduphobia,” said Dr. Indu Viswanathan, the other co-director of Understanding Hinduphobia. “We’ve been invited to speak on multiple college campuses since the Understanding Hinduphobia Conference 2021. Our experience has been that when we sit in a room with people, present them with data, including documented Hindu genocide, colonial Hinduphobia, and the impact of toxic Hinduphobic rhetoric on Hindu American students…when we connect all the dots, people wake up. When we tell an administrator, ‘Your campus is a site of concern for the global Hindu community and we are here to help you navigate this,’ they sit up and listen. They get it. They want to know more, and they want to help.”

The topics to be covered by the event include the historical and contemporary persecution of Hindu communities, Hinduphobia in digital spaces, the experiences of high school and college Hindu students with Hinduphobia, an inter-faith examination of shared experiences with bigotry, and the impact of Hinduphobia on ordinary Hindu Americans today.

Prominent speakers at this year’s conference include the aforementioned co-directors of the Understanding Hinduphobia Initiative, Professor Sachi Dastidar of SUNY-Old Westbury, the Hindu chaplain and administrators from Boston University, and the representatives of several grass-roots community organizations, along with many others.

The conference is free and open to students and members of the community. Those interested may register for the event by visiting: https://www.hindustudentscouncil.org/understanding-hinduphobia-2022/

Founded in 1990, Hindu Students Council is North America’s largest pan-Hindu youth organization. HSC is a 501(c)3 non-profit providing a safe space for Hindus on campuses all over and is a platform for young Hindu leaders to learn, grow and engage in advocacy, empowerment, and seva. Over 200,000 students of various backgrounds have attended HSC’s programs since its founding.

For more information, please visit https://www.hindustudentscouncil.org/ or email HSC at  [email protected].

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