By Priya Swamy. Since the early 1990s, the Surinamese Hindu community in the Netherlands has been considered a ‘model minority’: A hardworking community who achieved high levels of socio-economic success while keeping a ‘low’ political and social profile in Dutch society. This paper explores the ways that this ‘model minority’ stereotype has been complicated by a group of Surinamese Hindus who have engaged in forms of political protest and lobbying since 2010 to re-establish a purpose-built temple in Amsterdam Southeast. Instead of viewing this as a matter of purely religious duty, community actors see their protests and lobbying as an extension of their civic duties. Rather than accept the markers of dignity that ’model minority’ status often bestows, many of my respondents reject the importance of material wealth in favour of increased political involvement as a marker of successful and meaningful Dutch integration. This talk will link the voices of community actors with recent scholarship on affective citizenship in the Netherlands in order to interrogate how shifting values of ‘Hinduness’ are similarly articulated as values of ‘Dutchness’. This talk is based on extensive semi-structured interviews and participant observation within a specific temple community in Amsterdam Southeast, carried out between 2012-2015.
Priya Swamy is a visiting fellow at the Royal Netherlands Institute for Southeast Asia and the Caribbean (KITLV) in Leiden. She is completing her PhD research on temple building processes in Amsterdam Southeast, and developing a project on active citizenship and Hindu identity at KITLV. She holds a degree in World Religions from McGill University and an MPhil in Asian Studies from Leiden University. She has worked as a lecturer at Leiden University College and Leiden Institute For Area Studies. Her research explores the changing articulations of Hindu identity in relation to public space and focuses primarily on European diaspora communities. Her current research builds upon extensive fieldwork in Amsterdam and Paramaribo, Suriname.
Photo: Omroep West