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Indian Cosmopolitan Alternatives

Ritual Intersections and the Regulation of Religious Offense

Lots of pictures of sacred crosses, people and others things. Photo.

Model for an unending wall of all-religion shrines

How does a state as religiously plural as India hold together? This project examined the outcome of ritual intersections and the regulation of religious offence, both of which are far more prevalent in India than in contemporary Euro-American contexts.

As previous research has shown, sacred Sufi tombs and Muslim mystics are still consulted by people from variegated religious backgrounds, many Hindus still incorporate the Sikh gurus and Jesus in their everyday ritual invocations and some Muslims still turn to Hindu goddesses for protection. But how do such ritual crossings “work”?  And how do they promote interreligious understanding beyond the ritual moment?

Research on regulation of religious offence has so far been overwhelmingly normative in its debates of whether such regulation entails a problematic or necessary limitation of free speech. In this project we rather turned our attention to the wider outcomes of such a legislation, including its apparent success in limiting controversies despite the tempered discussions it occasionally may trigger.

This project thus relied on a fine-grained examination of contemporary religious plurality in India at the same time as it aimed to put the scholarship of religious plurality in Europe in sharp relief.


The project was funded by the The Research Council of Norway




The project was developed in cooperation with scholars at the University of Technology, Sydney, the University of Delhi and Tata Institute of Social Sciences. The project was managed by the University of Bergen, where Frøystad was employed until August 2014.

Tags: India, Religion and politics, Ritualer, freedom of speech, Cosmopolitanism
Published Oct. 15, 2014 5:42 PM - Last modified Apr. 1, 2020 10:21 PM


Kathinka Frøystad
Project leader


  • Vera Lazzaretti
  • Radhika Chopra
  • Virginius Xaxa
  • Devleena Ghosh
  • Mukesh Kumar
  • Alimpana Goswami
  • Arnav Das Sharma
Detailed list of participants