Jainism in the West

Jain Communities in Europe between internal Self-Insurance and strategic Self-Representation

Jainism is the third religion, along with Buddhism and Brahmanism ("Hinduism"), that originated in ancient India and continues to exist today. An above-average number of members of this numerically small religious community occupy influential positions in the Indian and international economy today. Since the early 20th century, Jain diaspora communities developed first in Africa, and a little later also in Europe and North America.

This migration process was favored by the traditional concentration of many Jaina families on trade and the high level of mobility associated with it, motivated in part by religious requirements. The project is dedicated to the tension between the preservation of tradition and adaptation to modern Western society within the Jain diaspora communities in Europe and focuses on the changes and transformations that the transmission of religious and cultural traditions and the cultural life of the diaspora communities are subject to. The preservation of a 'Jain identity' requires the development of Jain traditions that can be maintained in Western societies without being fully absorbed. At the same time, the Jainas compete outside their community for recognition as a religious community in a Western society dominated by monotheistic religions.

One consequence of this constellation is an adaptation to the structures and ideas of these religions. Internally, this strengthens their identity by promoting an awareness of the equal status of Jainism with Christianity, Judaism and Islam. Apart from a stronger, "church-like" degree of organization of the community structures this also concerns the presentation of the religion to the outside. Comparable processes also take place in the Hindu diaspora of Europe and America.


01/2020 – 12/2022

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Affiliated Persons

Photograph of Dr. Patrick Felix Krüger

Dr. Patrick Felix Krüger

Project Leader

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