Honours Programme

Sociology and Anthropology

Concept Note

Annual Department Seminar 2020-2021

Honours activity

Cults

An air of mystery entices us about the word. Often, they are construed as worlds in themselves – remote, in shadows and inaccessible to all. They might just be elitist clubs that people form – as banal as a leisure activity that one gets better at over time but with examinations put in – also called rites of passage. At other times in Sociology, there’s a cult of personality, and a cult of the individual. What

makes cults fascinating? How do they attract and gather followers? Is it indoctrination or do they lead to agency? And for whom? What do participants in cult practices derive from it that they are willing to engage in extreme acts to be a part of it and sustain their belonging within it? From Aum Shiromani’s presence in Australia and their nerve gas attacks in the Japanese underground, to Tom Cruise and Scientology (as a gated religious practice), to the Aghoris who cross boundaries of purity and pollution, cults create a curiosity for the reader of stories as much as for the writer of stories. If you have an urge to discover your own fascination with cults with the application of the sociological imagination, then here is a seminar that would work to ensure a deeper understanding of this phenomenon.

Cults that transform human understanding of belongingness but at the same time they represent the desperate need to move out a central theme/group/family or faith for that matter. But cults raise another troubling idea of whether we are unsure about what we demand from the world around us. Is it a psychological impact of our surroundings that gets us to desperate seek meanings in elements beyond the daily, the mundane and the socialized world around us? Or is it merely a fashion trend that props and compels us to try out something unusual. This and many more subthemes will be explored.

Each individual is to write a seminar paper – based on whether primary research or secondary – where in the offline space there is clear sets of deadlines and milestones created for how and when to make drafts and run them through your supervisor/guide for the paper. We would more or less follow those in the online space as well. But until then only ask yourself, whether this theme fascinates you enough to write for the seminar and some papers are selected and published in our department journal – Eidos as well.

Honours Credits: 1

Fees: Rs.1000-2500 (depending on whether its online or offline)

Hub: Interdisciplinary

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