Priyesh Patel

Priyesh Patel


I am a second-year doctoral student in Theology and Religious Studies, based at the Centre for Religion ad Public Life. I read for a BA in Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) from the University of Warwick, and in-between my second and third-year, I completed a Graduate Diploma in Sanskrit and Hindu Traditions in India. Alongside a deeper engagement with textual traditions, I travelled to various sites of religious significance which sparked an interest in the academic study of Hinduism. After completing my BA, I read for an MSc in Social and Cultural Anthropology at University College London (UCL). My thesis took a comparative approach to Hindu identity across two urban contexts: London and Lisbon. It also opened me up to studying migration trajectories of various Hindu communities and how that influences contemporary community dynamics. 

Thereafter, I read for an MPhil in Modern South Asian Studies at the University of Oxford. The interdisciplinary training from my undergraduate studies proved crucial in studying the dynamics of a specific region, and how it contrasts to other regions. I was fortunate to attend St.Antony’s college, the home of Area Studies at Oxford, and learn from students and academics researching various regional contexts through a range of disciplines. I also benefited from academic mentorship from instititutions such as the Oxford School of Global and Area Studies, the Oriental Institute, the Oxford Department of International Department, the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology and the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies. Most importantly, my 30,000-word MPhil thesis was supervised by Professor David Gellner who is a global expert on Buddhism, Nepal, the Nepalese disapora and more. My thesis centred on the religious lives of Swaminarayan Hindus aged 23–40 living in the UK. Some of the key questions I explored were: How were the weekly age-stratified sabhãs (assemblies) tailored to the challenges and interests of that age-bracket? What were the religious experiences of a diverse spectrum of members attending weekly assemblies? How can this case study inform scholarly understandings of modern Hinduism, the secularisation thesis and the role of religion in contemporary society?

My doctoral research is focused on British Hinduism, the public sphere and spatial theory. I am interested in exploring key devotional spaces through ethnographic and historical methods, taking the Neasden temple and Bhaktivedanta Manor as my primary case studies. I am interested in contrasting the ways in which space is occupied by British Hinduism and how sampradayas organise space to engage British Hindus. 

Research interests

  • Hinduism in Britain
  • Hindu ‘diaspora’
  • Religious identity
  • Decoloniality
  • Space and spatial theory
  • Religion in the public sphere


  • BA in Philosophy, Politics and Economics, University of Warwick
  • Graduate Diploma in Sanskrit and Hindu Studies, Shree Somnath Sanskrit University
  • MSc in Social and Cultural Anthropology, UCL
  • MPhil in Modern South Asian Studies, University of Oxford

Research groups and institutes

  • Centre for Religion and Public Life