Document Type



Master of Arts (MA)


Religious Studies

First Advisor's Name

Steven M. Vose

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee chair

Second Advisor's Name

Whitney Bauman

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member

Third Advisor's Name

Oren B. Stier

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member


Karma, Ahimsa, Capitalism, Jainism, Violence, Racism, Environment

Date of Defense



This thesis investigates the nature of environmental racism, a by-product of “slow violence” under capitalism, from the perspective of Jain philosophy. By observing slow violence through the lens of Jain doctrine and ethics, I investigate whether the central tenets of ahimsa and karma are philosophically anti-capitalist, and if there are facets within Jain ethics supporting slow violence. By analyzing the ascetic and lay ethical models, I conclude that the maximization of profit and private acquisition of lands/resources are capitalist attributes that cannot thrive efficiently under a proper Jain ethical model centered on ahimsa (non-harm, non-violence) and world-denying/world-renouncing practices. Conversely, karma and Jain cosmology has the potential to support slow violence when considering their philosophical and fatalistic implications. Furthermore, by connecting the theory of slow violence with the theory of microaggressions, I assert that, while resolving microaggressions, Jainism’s highly individualistic ethical system can hinder confronting slow violence.





Rights Statement

Rights Statement

In Copyright. URI:
This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).