A Tamil Saivite Temple in Australia: Sustaining Community Amidst Linguistic Diversity

A Notice re a NEW BOOK on the negotiation of language and identity in a Tamil Saivite Temple in Australia by NILRUKSHI PERERA

Diversity is a buzzword of our times and yet the extent of religious diversity in Western societies is generally misconceived. This ground-breaking research draws attention to the journey of one migrant religious institution in an era of religious superdiversity.

Negotiating Linguistic and Religious Diversity
A Tamil Hindu Temple in Australia, .... 2022

ISBN 9781032115818 …. Routledge , 2022, 174 pp, 6 Pix…. 272 $ ….. https://www.routledge.com/Negotiating-Linguistic-and-Religious-Diversity-A-Tamil-Hindu-Temple-in/Perera/p/book/9781032115818

Based on a sociolinguistic ethnography in a Tamil Saivite temple in Australia, the book explores the challenges for the institution in maintaining its linguistic and cultural identity in a new context. The temple is faced with catering for devotees of diverse ethnicities, languages, and religious interpretations; not to mention divergent views between different generations of migrants who share ethnicity and language. At the same time, core members of the temple seek to continue religious and cultural practices according to the traditions of their homelands in Sri Lanka, a country where their identity and language has been under threat.

The study offers a rich picture of changing language practices in a diasporic religious institution. Perera inspects language ideology considerations in the design of institutional language policy and how such policy manifests in language use in the temple spaces. This includes the temple’s Sunday school where heritage language and religion interplay in second-generation migrant adolescents’ identifications and discourse.


1 Language and religion in superdiverse times 2. The Lankan Tamil diaspora and Hinduism 3. Language and faith challenges at an Australian Hindu temple 4. Approaches to language policy and faith transmission 5. Talking Saivism in the temple’s Sunday school 6. Negotiating Lankan Tamil youth faith, language, and identity in the temple 7. Conclusion: The evolving koovil (temple)

Author ….. Nirukshi Perera is a sociolinguist with a specialisation in language in Sri Lanka and the South Asian diaspora. Her thesis, on which this book is based, received the 2018 Australian Linguistics Society/Applied Linguistics Association Michael Clyne prize for the best thesis on immigrant bilingualism and language contact. She is interested in the interplay of social justice and language, in terms of migration and multiculturalism, in health communication for linguistically marginalised groups, and in how language is used for asserting and overcoming oppression. Niru is a Research Fellow in Linguistic Analysis at Curtin University where she analyses telephone interactions in emergency ambulance calls with a view to improving the effectiveness of communication that can help to save people’s lives.


“Language and religion have ensured the continuity of each other for generations. Perera unveils new paradoxes in this dynamic in recent forms of migration. While Saivism and Tamil are changing in a new social ecology, they still anchor heritage identity and faith for diasporic Sri Lankan Tamils in Australia.”—Professor Suresh Canagarajah, Pennsylvania State University, USA

“Niru Perera takes the reader on a deep dive of a Tamil Hindu Temple in Australia to discover what it means to be Lankan, Tamil, Hindu, and Australian. A gripping tale of the search for social inclusion amid shifting languages, identities, and beliefs across generations.”—Distinguished Professor Ingrid Piller, Macquarie University, Australia


ALSO NOTE …… https://anu-au.academia.edu/NirukshiNiruPerera

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