Lived Zoroastrianism: Women’s Religious Practices in the American Diaspora
Lecture by Dr Paulina Niechciał, Jagiellonian University in Kraków
Thursday 27th April 2023, from 3:00 – 5:00 pm
This event is free to attended and no registration is required
Paul Webley Wing, SOAS
London, WC1H 0XG
This study contributes to understanding how Zoroastrianism—an ancient Iranian religion—transforms in the context of migration. Since the mid-20th century, North America has been accommodating migrants and refugees practicing Zoroastrianism, and their extensive majority resides in the United States of America. As a result, contrary to the diminishing traditional settlements of Zoroastrians in Iran and India, their communities here are growing and developing and in recent years probably already outnumbered those still living in the motherland of their religion – Iran.
Zoroastrian migration is connected with the transfer of religious practices to the new continent and I will discuss how they transform in a new context. The perspective that inspired this study is a lived religion approach that captures the changes and diversification of religious practices in everyday life, highlighting the way individuals practice religion. The study is based on fieldwork conducted in the US among the first and second generation of female immigrants, who identify with a Zoroastrian community and have at least one parent of Zoroastrian origin from Iran, India or Parsi colonies. As institutional Zoroastrianism is male-dominated, it is particularly interesting how women beyond the institutional frame transform religion through their practices. Conducted in different locations, including Illinois, California, Kentucky and Ohio, the study reflects on the diversity of American Zoroastrians, subsequently indicating some general trends in the transformation of their religion.