Professor Whitney Kelting on Masculinity, Donation and Modernity

Event Date

Putah Creek Lodge

Professor Whitney Kelting (Northeastern University) will deliver this year's second Mohini Jain Presidential Chair Lecture in Jain Studies. The lecture will be held on Thursday, February 13th at Putah Creek Lodge, UC Davis campus. The talk will be preceded by a reception at 5:30 PM. 

The event is free and open to the public.

Jain Masculinity, Donation and Modernity

Jain laymen have long participated in donation and temple patronage as a sine qua non marker of masculine piety. The model of the great patron of Jainism is reflected in religious narratives and prescriptive texts that instruct Jain laymen on their duties. Jain masculinity’s close link to financial success and temple building programs provides a fruitful space for examining scholarly assumptions about masculinity, money, and religion.


Financial donations to religious institutions have historically been the particular privilege of the very rich Jains whose largesse defined a form of hyper-masculinity. The expression of masculine power is linked to men’s ability to command capital on a grand scale and the idea of a virtuous man develops as one who uses his capital to support religious institutions. The foundations of Jain institutional structures center on Jain masculinity.


For Jains, as in many groups, religion becomes a fertile ground for gender negotiations as the ideas of tradition and modern are performed. Modernity is not simply defined, but for the purposes of this project it lies at the intersection between economic liberalization, perceived democratization of capital, shifting demographics about family structure towards the nuclear family, and global movement of both individuals and goods.


M. Whitney Kelting is an associate professor of religious studies at Northeastern University. Kelting is the author of two monographs: Singing to the Jinas (OUP 2001) and Heroic Wives (OUP 2009) as well as numerous articles exploring the intersection of Jain studies, gender studies, cultural studies and religious studies. Kelting’s present work centers on Jain masculinity and religious donation among Jains.