Call for Book Chapters: "Beyond Belief: South Asian Narratives on Religion, Environment, and Gender"

South Asia, a vibrant tapestry of cultures, traditions, and beliefs, showcases a complex interplay of religion, gender dynamics, and environmental influences. In this diverse region, encompassing countries like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Bhutan, these three facets - religion, gender, and the environment - converge in multifaceted ways, shaping societies, lifestyles, practices, and perceptions. Religion, deeply woven into the fabric of South Asian societies, often plays a pivotal role in shaping attitudes toward the environment. Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Christianity, Sikhism, and other faiths hold unique perspectives on nature and the responsibility of humans towards it. 

Hinduism is the largest religion in South Asia by number of followers. Central to Hindu beliefs is the idea of “dharma”, emphasizing the moral and ethical responsibilities governing human conduct. The reverence for nature is exemplified in worshipping rivers like the Ganges, trees like the Banyan, and animals like cows, and pilgrimage places are strongly connected to nature. In Buddhism, the interconnectedness of all living beings forms the basis for environmental stewardship. The central Buddhist belief of the “middle path”, advocating moderation and balance, fosters an environmentally conscious lifestyle. In countries like Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Nepal, this has led to conservation efforts and a focus on sustainable practices.

Similarly, Sikhism advocates for a harmonious relationship between humans and nature, viewing the environment as a gift from the divine. The foundational principle of “Ik Onkar” emphasizes the oneness of the divine in all creation, fostering a deep respect for nature. This core belief underlines the responsibility of Sikhs to cherish and protect the environment. 

Islam is the second-largest religion in South Asia by membership. Iranian philosopher Seyyed Hossein Nasr developed the concept of Islamic environmental activism and reinterpreted the Islamic concept of humankind as a Khalifah (representative or successor of God on the earth), thereby making humankind God’s steward (Kalifah) on the earth, the central belief of Islamic ecology, rather than having dominion over it unlike Christianity, Judaism and modern philosophical systems which are based on a clear break between nature and human beings. Apart from these major religions, various religious beliefs and practices practised by tribal groups spread across the length and breadth of South Asia are strongly linked with the environment and nature. Religious practices of all major religions are under strain today because of rapid industrialization and urbanization, threatening natural spaces.  

One of the significant adverse outcomes of unchecked industrialization has been climate change, which has affected women most as they are tasked with gathering water and fuel in rural areas and bearing the brunt of environmental degradation. Gender inequality also hampers the inclusion of women in environmental decision-making processes. On the other hand, religious practices, when interpreted from a feminist perspective, may play an important role in the empowerment of women. The intersection of religion, gender and environment can be exemplified in the historic Chipko movement (Chipko movement was a nonviolent social and ecological movement by rural villagers, particularly women, in India in the 1970s, aimed at protecting trees and forests slated for government-backed logging) in the present-day state of Uttarakhand, India and among the Bhisoni community of Rajasthan, India. The growing academic discourse of eco-feminism and religiously inspired environmentalism have paved up new ways to reimagine the discourse of development and sustainability in the context of climate change, especially in South Asian societies. This approach also invites us to think from a decolonization perspective to understand the intricacies between development, gender and religion. 

In the context of the above brief discussion, this book will explore the intersection between three conceptual categories of religion, gender and environment in the context of South Asian societies. One of the objectives of this book is to break away from the dominant modern Western epistemologies of the relationship between humans and the environment/nature, understood as humankind’s dominion over nature, in the direction of having a harmonious relationship between humans and nature. This book invites scholars to reflect upon these tentative themes, but not limited to: 

  • Rethinking rituals in the context of response to climate change
  • ⁠Religious themes in the politics of environmentalism
  • Environmental endings and indigenous religion.
  • ⁠Narratives of Environmental declines
  • Reflection on Environmental Activism and climate injustice. 
  • Critical and methodological studies of religion
  • ⁠Sacred ecology: emphasizing the sacredness of the environment
  • ⁠Religious beliefs and practices: contemporary concerns.
  • Women and Spiritual leadership in the various environmental movements.
  • Environmental Endings and Religious Futures.
  • ⁠Climate change and Gender vulnerabilities.
  • ⁠Researching Climate Justice: A decolonial approach to Global Climate Governance. 
  • Health literacy and community empowerment
  • Bridging religion, gender and “one health.”
  • ⁠⁠Cultural narratives and perceptions of illness
  • ⁠⁠Traditional healing and faith-based approaches to well-being
  • Gender, religious beliefs and access to healthcare
  • ⁠Women’s roles in community health resilience
  • Climate crises and community health
  • ⁠⁠Environmental activism and health equity

Submission Timeline: 

  • Abstract Submission Deadline: May 15, 2024
  • Confirmation of Selected Abstracts: June 15, 2024 
  • Final Chapter Submission Deadline: October 30, 2024 

What to Submit?

Extended Abstract of not more than 500 words with 4-6 keywords mentioning your study’s objectives, research questions, methodology and relevance in South Asia. A short Bio-note about the author.


Times New Roman, 12 font size, 1.5 line spacing, British Spellings


Anand Ranjan, PhD Candidate and UKRI Fellow at The University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Dr Bijayani Mishra, Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Delhi.

This proposal is due on May 30th 2024.

Page last updated on April 15th 2024. All information correct at the time, but subject to change.