“At Home Camping on Shifting Sands”

Lessons in Humility from Between Worlds


  • Bhakti Mamtora The College of Wooster




intellectual humility, hybrid identity, Swaminarayan, Swamini Vato, Swaminarayan Sampraday, Gujarat, Hindu traditions


This personal narrative analyzes how the practice of intellectual humility can push the boundaries placed around the categories of home and field. I contend that scholars can conduct fieldwork in religion meaningfully by practicing intellectual humility with ourselves, with our interlocutors, and within the academy. Humility with ourselves consists of practicing self-reflexivity and understanding our positionality and its connection to the field. Humility with our interlocutors requires listening to their voices and accepting that fieldwork is dictated by things that happen on the ground and not our neatly conceived plans. Humility in the academy entails an open-mindedness to theorize about the field from within the field and not necessarily from within the confines of the academy. By practicing intellectual humility, one can begin to bridge the boundaries of home and field, self and other, and become attentive to new directions in academic research.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biography

Bhakti Mamtora, The College of Wooster

Bhakti Mamtora is an Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at the College of Wooster, Ohio. Her current project examines the genesis and reception of oral, textual and digital sacred texts in the Swaminarayan Sampraday. Broadly, her research interests include book history and print culture, religious subjectivity, and community
formation in nineteenth-century Gujarat.


Blackburn, Anne 2012 The Text and the World. In The Cambridge Companion to Religious Studies, edited by Robert Orsi, 151–67. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Bourdieu, Pierre 1977 The Outline of a Theory of Practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Flueckiger, Joyce Burkhalter 2006 In Amma’s Healing Room. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. https://doi.org/10.1111/amet.12366

When the World Becomes Female: Guises of a South Indian Goddess. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. https://doi.org/10.1111/amet.12366

Gold, Ann Grodzins 1990 Fruitful Journeys: The Ways of Rajasthani Pilgrims. Berkeley: University of California Press. https://doi.org/10.1525/ae.1989.16.3.02a00190

Gold, Ann Grodzins, and Bhoju

Ram Gujar 2002 In the Time of Trees and Sorrows: Nature, Power, and Memory in Rajasthan. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. https://doi.org/10.1177/000842980703600323

Hurston, Zora Neale 1990 [1935] Mules and Men. New York: Harper Perennial.

Jirousek, Lori 2004 “That Commonality of Feeling”: Hurston, Hybridity, and Ethnography. African American Review 38(3): 417–47. https://doi.org/10.2307/1512443

Lamb, Sarah 2000 White Saris and Sweet Mangoes: Aging, Gender and Body in North India. Berkeley: University of California Press. https://doi.org/10.1525/9780520935266

Aging and the Indian Diaspora: Cosmopolitan Families in India and Abroad. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Mahmood, Saba 2005 Politics of Piety. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

McCutcheon, Russell T. 2001 Critics not Caretakers: Redescribing the Public Study of Religion. Albany: State University of New York Press. https://doi.org/10.1177/000842980103000346

Orsi, Robert 2007 Between Heaven and Earth: The Religious Worlds People Make and the Scholars who Study them. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. https://doi.org/10.1086/507749

Prasad, Leela 2007 Poetics of Conduct: Oral Narrative and Moral Being in a South Indian Town. New York: Columbia University Press. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1748-0922.2007.00187_3.x

Srinivas, Tulasi 2018 The Cow in the Elevator: An Anthropology of Wonder. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. https://doi.org/10.1111/amet.12814



How to Cite

Mamtora, B. . (2020). “At Home Camping on Shifting Sands”: Lessons in Humility from Between Worlds. Fieldwork in Religion, 15(1-2), 67–80. https://doi.org/10.1558/firn.18352