Temples in diaspora: From moral landscapes to therapeutic religiosity and the construction of consilience in tamil toronto

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The recently concluded Sri Lankan civil war not only sent many members of Sri Lanka’s largely Hindu, Tamil minority into diaspora but their religious institutions, their kooyil or temples, as well. In Sri Lanka Hindu Temples tended to be tied to the landscape by cultural practices that made them, at once, centers of local, moral landscapes, and, during the civil war, alternative public spheres where critiques and enquiries otherwise dangerous could be given and asked with relative impunity. Indeed, it seems only in the wake of the Sri Lankan government’s defeat of militant Tamil separatism that this last refuge has become increasingly penetrated by a victorious state. In Toronto Canada, on the other hand, where over 200,000 Sri Lankan Tamils now reside, most Hindu temples float free from the urban landscapes where they have been constructed, and are now created, moved, and adjusted more according to a logic of retail religiosity than by the moral cosmologies employed in the homeland. Moreover, such temples have been inserted carefully into a nervous, post-9/11 multicultural Toronto and, hence, often more resemble stores or warehouses than religious institutions. Yet Toronto’s Hindu temples still provide the all-enveloping spatial assurance of identity, or what I am calling consilience, that Toronto’s uprooted and war-damaged Sri Lankan Tamils seem to require.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Changing World Religion Map
Subtitle of host publicationSacred Places, Identities, Practices and Politics
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9789401793766
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015.


  • Canada
  • Diaspora
  • Moral cosmologies
  • Resettlement
  • Sri Lankan Tamils

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Social Sciences
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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