Indian political theorist, Oxford honorary fellow to give Piediscalzi Lecture at Wright State

Indian political theorist Rajeev Bhargava will give a lecture on “Indian Secularism and the Ambivalence of Religion” on March 11 at Wright State.

Rajeev Bhargava, Ph.D., director of the Parekh Institute of Indian Thought at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies in Delhi, India, will deliver the Piediscalzi Lecture in Religion and American Culture at Wright State University.

Bhargava will present “Indian Secularism and the Ambivalence of Religion” on Monday, March 11, from 3:30 to 5 p.m. in the Student Union Discovery Room (163) on the Dayton Campus. The event is free and open to the public.

Bhargava has spent much of his work on political theory, multiculturalism, identity politics and secularism.

“Bhargava’s work on comparative secularisms would be particularly relevant in this moment in history, and his lecture would speak to questions of the relationship between religion and the state and how best to understand and navigate our public and private lives in a multicultural polity,” said Alpana Sharma, Ph.D., professor of English and chair of the Wright State School of Humanities and Cultural Studies. “This lecture would thus be of immense interest to our students, faculty, staff and our broader community in and around Dayton. We are very excited about this lecture.”

The Piediscalzi Lecture series at Wright State aims to create an opportunity for the Wright State community members to join with local residents to consider a topic of current religious interest. It honors Nicholas Piediscalzi, a founding member of the religion department.

“Bhargava’s work on the rise of religious nationalism in India and the history of India’s secular democracy has implications for all democratic nations including the United States,” said Valerie Stoker, Ph.D., professor of religion. “The study of secularism can’t happen without the study of religion, and the study of religion is deeply entangled with the study of politics and the historical rise of secularism. Events like the Piediscalzi Lecture and courses offered in the Religion Program at Wright State are important for understanding these links.”

Bhargava has worked at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies since 2005 and is currently the director of its newly launched Institute of Indian Thought. He served as the centre’s director from 2007 to 2014, professor at the Centre for Political Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi from 1980 to 2005, and head of the Department of Political Science at the University of Delhi from 2001 to 2005.

He has also served as a fellow at Harvard University, the University of Bristol, the Institute of Advanced Studies in Jerusalem, Wissenschaftskolleg in Berlin and the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna. He has also been a distinguished resident scholar at the Institute for Religion, Culture and Public Life at Columbia University and Asia chair at Sciences Po in Paris. He is an honorary fellow at Balliol College at the University of Oxford and a professorial fellow at the Institute of Social Justice at Australian Catholic University.

Bhargava’s publications include “Individualism in Social Science” (1992), “What is Political Theory and Why Do We Need It?” (2010) and “The Promise of India’s Secular Democracy” (2010). His edited works are “Secularism and Its Critics” (1998) and “Politics and Ethics of the Indian Constitution” (2008). He is a member of the advisory boards of several national and international institutions and was a consultant for the United Nations Development Programme report on cultural liberty.

Bhargava earned a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from the University of Delhi and a Master of Philosophy and Doctor of Philosophy from Oxford University.

The Piediscalzi Lecture is sponsored by the Religion Program in the School of Humanities and Cultural Studies in the College of Liberal Arts and the Division of Inclusive Excellence.

For more information, contact the School of Humanities and Cultural Studies at 937-775-3136 or

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