Michal Erlich

Michal Erlich is a PhD student in the School of Historical Studies, Tel Aviv University. Her research deals with contemporary religious practices in India, and focuses on the Guru-led Hindu communities in the peripheries of Delhi. These communities of several hundred devotees belonging to the city’s geographical, economical and sociocultural margins are pervasive yet under-researched in the academic literature that tends to focus on the dominant culture of the middle and upper classes. These peripheral communities are a unique case study because of their hybrid nature. Community members, mostly internal migrants, carry different cultural backgrounds, castes and mother tongues and still they make up one community sharing the common hardships of the lower classes. Based upon a two-year in-depth ethnographic fieldwork within two such communities, Michal aims to analyze the relationships between the devotees’ membership in a guru-community and their pursuit to improve their lives and achieve earthly and religious-spiritual wellbeing.