Ranjeeta Dutta gives a working paper on ‚Unequal Spaces, Equal Access: Negotiating Religion in the Temple Town of Srirangam in Early Modern South India‘

The present paper will examine the ways in which sacrality and urbanism provide the basis of relations of social dominance influenced by caste, occupational hierarchies and ritual rankings of the social groups. On the basis of a case study of the craftsmen at Srirangam, the paper will discuss the ways in which unequal social spaces were created within the city reflected in the existence of different streets around the temple, the distance of each of which from the temple was directly proportional to the social status of the inhabitants residing in those streets. Various religious groups associated with the temple interacted with this hierarchical urban morphology and developed followings by creating spaces of ‘equal’ access through inclusivistic ritual activities within the temple. While these ritual spaces had a semblance of equal access, in many ways the social hierarchy of caste was still maintained within the temple. In many ways, the temple provided an arena of competitive control of resources and followers for different religious groups. These religious groups dovetailed between social hierarchies and fluidity of the city boundaries lending dynamism to religion and urbanity.

Ranjeeta Dutta is going to present a working paper on ‚‘Temple Town’ as a Typology for Understanding Religion and Urbanity: The Case of Srirangam in Early Modern South India‘

This paper will first discuss the category of ‘temple town’ and ‘temple
urbanism and temple urbanization’ in South India as presented in the historical research and try to understand the viability of such phrases/terms as typologies for understanding religion and urbanity. Secondly, it will explore the development of Srirangam as an urban centre around a single cultic focus of the Ranganathasvami temple. An attempt will be made to analyse the processes through which the temple became the centre of diffusion not only for religious ideas and Srivaishnava community identities, but also of societal and political aspects of urbanism and urbanity that influenced its character and settlement patterns in the early modern period, from the fourteenth to eighteenth century CE.