Indian Religions: A Historical Reader of Spiritual Expression and Experience

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Peter Heehs
NYU Press, 2002 - Religion - 620 pages
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2013 Book Award Winner from the International Research Society in Children's Literature   2012 Outstanding Book Award Winner from the Association for Theatre in Higher Education    2012 Winner of the Lois P. Rudnick Book Prize presented by the New England American Studies Association    2012 Runner-Up, John Hope Franklin Publication Prize presented by the American Studies Association   2012 Honorable Mention, Distinguished Book Award presented by the Society for the Study of American Women Writers   Part of the American Literatures Initiative Series     Beginning in the mid nineteenth century in America, childhood became synonymous with innocence—a reversal of the previously-dominant Calvinist belief that children were depraved, sinful creatures. As the idea of childhood innocence took hold, it became racialized: popular culture constructed white children as innocent and vulnerable while excluding black youth from these qualities. Actors, writers, and visual artists then began pairing white children with African American adults and children, thus transferring the quality of innocence to a variety of racial-political projects—a dynamic that Robin Bernstein calls “racial innocence.” This phenomenon informed racial formation from the mid nineteenth century through the early twentieth.
Racial Innocence takes up a rich archive including books, toys, theatrical props, and domestic knickknacks which Bernstein analyzes as “scriptive things” that invite or prompt historically-located practices while allowing for resistance and social improvisation.  Integrating performance studies with literary and visual analysis, Bernstein offers singular readings of theatrical productions from blackface minstrelsy to Uncle Tom’s Cabin to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz; literary works by Joel Chandler Harris, Harriet Wilson, and Frances Hodgson Burnett; material culture including Topsy pincushions, Uncle Tom and Little Eva handkerchiefs, and Raggedy Ann dolls; and visual texts ranging from fine portraiture to advertisements for lard substitute. Throughout, Bernstein shows how “innocence” gradually became the exclusive province of white children—until the Civil Rights Movement succeeded not only in legally desegregating public spaces, but in culturally desegregating the concept of childhood itself.   Check out the author's blog for the book here. 

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Indian religions: a historical reader of spiritual expression and experience

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In a book that attempts to cover the last 3500 years of Indian spiritual expression, Heehs (Sri Aurobindo Ashram Archives, Pondicherry, India) includes selections and transcriptions of about 200 texts ... Read full review

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nice book for essay in college sources


The Veda
The Upanishads
Theravada Buddhism
Samkhya and Yoga
The Bhagavad Gita
Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism
IndoPersian Sufism
Siddhas Yogis and Others
The Bhakti Movement
The Sams
The Sikh Gurus
Popular Sufism
Twelve Mystics of Modern India
Four Mystic Poets

The Puranas
Spiritual Philosophies

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About the author (2002)

Peter Heehs is director of historical research at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Archives, Pondicherry, India. He is the author of five books, the most recent of which is Nationalism, Terrorism, Communalism.

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