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Jugaad: A Material Religions Project is an open access online publication showcasing new and innovative work on religion and materiality across disciplines of anthropology, cultural studies, religious studies, film and media studies, and race and gender studies. Formerly called the Material Religions Blog (established 2014), Jugaad continues to focus on the importance of lived reality (material, bodily or affective) in the study of religion whether viewed through the lens of politics, media, heritage, or ecology.

Jugaad is professionally staffed by volunteers. Independent and global in outlook, we are open to collaborating with academics as well as educational and creative groups to help showcase their efforts in the form of online publications, videos, photos and experimental art.

Sample our diverse content. Explore how embodiment varies across a digital Zen community and an African ritual of basket divination. Consider how Western CrossFit sports culture and sanitation programs in India could be religious. Delve into ecological issues from Russia and the US.

What does the term Jugaad mean?

On our site we define it as “an innovative solution that bends the rules or the use of a quotidian idea/object in a new way.” That is, we associate our project with the notion of ‘hacking’ which has its roots in South Asian usage.

What do we mean by ‘hacking’ the study of religion?

Dynamics of the messy, improvised, and emergent are part of our material realities but instead of associating Jugaad with the (somewhat pejorative) notions of cheapness or expediency, we purposely aim to reposition the term and the project as a site of innovation, focusing on quotidian acts of making-do and knowing-how.

Who is doing this ‘hacking’?

A combination of the editorial team, the online project platform that acts as an experimental dialogue space, and the authors and readers who create and support content emanating from experimental approaches to social situations. While we note the multiple connotations of the term Jugaad, our usage focuses on the creativity that accompanies living, knowing and improvising with what is immanent.

Why do you use categories of Media, Ecologies and Heritage?

All of our categories channel a common interest in the roles of bodies and materials in religion with attendant concerns of (in)tangibility, (in)visibility, real vs. imaginary, and the relationship between discursive and procedural domains. Media is an elastic understanding of materials/things to the full extension of expression and creativity, contained for instance in aesthetics and embodied praxis. The category Ecologies forms a framework to explore the configurations and possibilities of material life-worlds and circumstances that exist and interact with/through the body. And Heritage is the temporal and political articulation of materiality, as lived experience, as discourse (historical/ideological), and as sites of identity-making.