Ms. Clare Sisisky is the director of global education at the Collegiate School in Richmond, Virginia. She became a Pluralism Project affiliate while teaching religion and philosophy at Phillips Academy in Andover, MA. In 2003-2004, Ms. Sisisky conducted research on Mauritian Hinduism“Hindu” was originally a word given by the Greeks, then the Persians, to the land and peoples beyond the Indus or “Sindhu” River. The term “Hinduism” came into common use only in the 19th century to describe a complex and dynamic pattern of li... and post-colonial religious pluralism in Mauritius, a research project funded by a Frederick Sheldon Traveling Fellowship from Harvard University. The project was conducted in Mauritius under the sponsorship of the Mauritius Cultural Center Trust, and with the assistance of scholars and lecturers from the Mahatma GandhiM.K. Gandhi (1869-1948) was one of the great religious leaders and social reformers of the twentieth century. He came to be called Mahatma, the “Great Soul.” Born in western India in Gujarat, he studied law in London and then spent twenty years with t... Institute, the University of Mauritius, and the leaders of various religious communities in Mauritius.
Ms. Sisisky wrote of the project:
The African island of Mauritius, located in the Indian Ocean, is known as the ‘rainbow nation’ due to the cultural, ethnic and religious diversity that thrives there. In most Mauritian towns and cities, the variety of Hindu templesA Hindu temple will be called a mandir in northern parts of India or a koyil in the south. There are many styles of temples and temple-complexes, but most temples are laid out according to precise dimensions and proportions and erected to be the symbolic ..., mosquesMasjid (plural masajid) in Arabic means “place of prostration,” or the place where Muslims bow in prayer; in English, this word has become “mosque.” A masjid contains a prayer hall in which there is a mihrab or prayer niche, and a minbar or pulpit..., and Catholic churchesThe term church has come to wide use to refer to the organized and gathered religious community. In the Christian tradition, church refers to the organic, interdependent “body” of Christ’s followers, the community of Christians. Secondarily, church ... demonstrates the complex religious landscape of the island. As religious conflicts plague many nations, regions, and local communities, and as increased immigration and globalization generate inter-religious encounters, it is essential to understand how to negotiate religious diversity and foster pluralistic societies. Mauritius offers the world a unique window into the challenges and successes of religious pluralism.
Ms. Sisisky’s research explored the religions of Mauritius, the interactions of religious communities on the island, and the fostering of a shared national identity since independence. Although scholars from both Mauritius and other nations have examined the wealth of diversity in Mauritius, little scholarship existed at the time of this study that specifically examined the religious aspects of Mauritian communities. Ms. Sisisky’s research first focused on the Hindu communities of Mauritius. She documented the internal diversity of Mauritian Hinduisms“Hindu” was originally a word given by the Greeks, then the Persians, to the land and peoples beyond the Indus or “Sindhu” River. The term “Hinduism” came into common use only in the 19th century to describe a complex and dynamic pattern of li..., outlining each of the communities and examining their place in the broader context of Hindu diversity in a multi-cultural society. Her second area of focus was the inter-religious relations on the island, and the third aspect of the project was to trace efforts to rebuild national unity since the eruption of riots in 1999.
At the time of this research, Ms. Sisisky wrote:
The religious traditions of Mauritius provide a unique and valuable access point to both understanding complex Hindu communities in the diasporaA Greek word first used in the Hellenistic period, Diaspora refers to the “dispersion” of Jewish communities living in countries other than Israel. Today, the term Diaspora is also used to describe other religious communities, living apart from their ... and examining multi-cultural societies in their negotiations of religious diversity.
Selected Links and Publications
- Interview: Ms. Clare Sisisky, United States Institute of Peace Global Peacebuilding Center
- Project Outline: Mauritian Hinduism and Post-Colonial Religious Pluralism in Mauritius
- Report: “Mauritian Hinduisms“
- Bibliography: Mauritius
- Website: US State Department Page on Mauritius
- Website: Clare Sisisky, Religious Literacy Project