My primary field of research is the critical study of medicine, religion, and the body. Some of my past and current projects incorporate ethnographic, historical, and philological methods to explain how and why people in south India “do things with texts” to heal and promote wellbeing. My research also looks at the academic study of Asian medicines in/and the medical and health humanities and explores links between art, aesthetics, and ethnography.
I am also the creator of Manuscriptistan
, a photo-ethnographic art project that probes the aesthetics of Indian manuscript cultures — @manuscriptistan
[Twitter] & @manuscriptistan
My research has been supported by fellowships and awards from several organizations, including the Kluge Center, John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities, European Institutes for Advanced Study, American Council of Learned Societies, and the Fulbright-Hays Program.
EducationPh.D., University of Chicago
M.A., Yale University
B.A., Loyola University Chicago
Work Shared in CORE
Other PublicationsBooks & Edited Volumes
Articles, Chapters, Essays
- 2020. Time, Continuity, and Rupture: Medicines and Memories in South Asia. Co-edited with Lisa Brooks and Victoria Sheldon. Asian Medicine 15, no. 1.
- 2018. The Gift in India in Theory and Practice. Co-edited with Miriam Benteler. International Journal of Hindu Studies 22, no. 2.
- 2013. Medical Texts and Manuscripts in Indian Cultural History. Co-edited with Dominik Wujastyk and Karin Preisendanz. New Delhi: Manohar Press.
- 2012. Somatic Lessons: Narrating Patienthood and Illness in Indian Medical Literature. SUNY Series in Hindu Studies. Albany: State University of New York Press.
- 2021. “Disease: Discourse and Interpretation in Premodern South Asia.” Religion Compass (DOI: 10.1111/rec3.12423).
- 2021. “Allegory and History, Life and Embodiment.” In Body and Cosmos: Studies in Early Indian Medical and Astral Sciences in Honor of Kenneth G. Zysk, Toke Knudsen, Jacob Schmidt-Madsen, and Sara Speyer (eds.), 209-232. Leiden: Brill.
- 2020. “Epilogue: Healing Concerns in South Asian Texts, Histories, and Societies.” Asian Medicine 15, no. 1: 183-196.
- 2020. “Introduction: Medicines and Memories in South Asia.” Co-authored with Lisa Brooks and Victoria Sheldon. Asian Medicine 15, no. 1: 3-9.
- 2020. “Archival Aesthetics: Framing and Exhibiting Indian Manuscripts and Manuscript Libraries.” South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies 43, no. 3: 455-477.
- 2018. “Politicking Ayurvedic Education.” Asian Medicine 13, no. 1-2: 298-334.
- 2018. “Gifting Knowledge for Long Life.” International Journal of Hindu Studies 22, no. 2: 235-255.
- 2018. “The Gift in India in Theory and Practice.” Co-Authored with Miriam Benteler. International Journal of Hindu Studies 22, no. 2: 191-196.
- 2018. Manuscriptistan 01” and “Manuscriptistan 04.” Light: A Journal of Photography and Poetry 7 (Fall): 10-11.
- 2016. “Body, Self, and Embodiment in the Sanskrit Classics of Ayurveda.” In Refiguring the Body: Embodiment in South Asian Religions, Barbara Holdrege and Karen Pechilis (eds.), 59-88. Albany: State University of New York Press.
- 2016. “Mineral Healing: Gemstone Remedies in Astrological and Medical Traditions.” Co-authored with Caterina Guenzi. In Soulless Matter, Seats of Energy: Metals, Gems and Minerals in South Asian Religions and Culture, Fabrizio Ferrari and Thomas Dähnhardt (eds.), 73-93. Sheffield and Bristol, CT: Equinox.
- 2016. “അവസാനം മലയാളം വായനക്കാർക്ക് ജീവാനന്ദനം എത്തിച്ചേർന്നു.” ആമുഖം – പി. കെ. വി. ആനന്ദ് (ട്രാൻസ്), ജീവാനന്ദനം, 3-9. തൃശ്ശൂർ: കുന്നത്ത് മന ആയുർവേദം പുസ്തകങ്ങൾ.”
- 2015. “Unpuzzling an Aporia: Theorizing Acts of Ritual and Medicine in South India.” Journal of Ritual Studies 29, no. 2: 25-43.
- 2015. “Storytelling and Accountability for Illness in Sanskrit Medical Literature.” In Disease, Religion, and Healing in Asia: Collaborations & Collisions, I. Vargas-O’Bryan and Z. Xun (eds.), 86-101. London: Routledge.
- 2014. “Editors’ Introduction: Roundtable on Intellectual Freedom, Vigilantism, and Censorship in India.” Co-authored with Eswaran Sridharan. India Review 13, no. 3: 274-276.
- 2014. “Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Warring Doctors and Meddling Ministers.” Co-authored with Sarah Berry. Mosaic: a journal for the interdisciplinary study of literature 47, no. 1: 111-128.
- 2013. “Mad Scientists, Narrative, and Social Power: A Collaborative Learning Activity.” Co-authored with Sarah Berry. Journal of Medical Humanities 34, no. 4: 451-454.
- 2013. “Zoroastrianism.” In Religions of the World: An Introduction to Culture and Meaning, Lawrence Sullivan (ed.), 283-304. Minneapolis: Fortress Press.
- 2013. “The Joy of Life: Medicine, Politics, and Religion.” In Medical Texts and Manuscripts in Indian Cultural History, A. Cerulli, K. Preisendanz, and D. Wujastyk (eds.), 159-179. New Delhi: Manohar Press.
- 2012. “On the Allegorization of Action for Health.” eJournal of Indian Medicine 5, no. 1: 25-35.
- 2011. “Calculating Fecundity in the Kasyapa Samhita.” In Health and Religious Rituals in South Asia: Disease, Possession and Healing, Fabrizio Ferrari (ed.), 114-126. London: Routledge.
- 2010. “Ayurveda.” In Brill’s Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Volume II: Texts, Rituals, Arts, and Concepts, K.A. Jacobsen, H. Basu, A. Malinar, V. Narayanan (eds.), 267-280. Leiden: Brill (revised online ed., 2013).
- 2009. “Know Thy Body, Know Thyself: Decoding Knowledge of the Atman in Sanskrit Medical Literature.” Co-authored with Brahmadathan U.M.T. eJournal of Indian Medicine 2, no 3: 101-107.
- 2009. “Narrative Wellbeing: Anandarayamakhin’s The Joy of Life (Jivanandanam).” Indian Journal of History of Science 44, no. 2: 231-246.
- 2009. “On the Nature of the Patient in Sanskrit Medical Literature.” In Ashtanga Hridaya Sathram, N.K. Mahadevan (ed.), 74-77. Kottayam: Sreekrishna Ayurveda Kendra.
- 2008. “Mental Disease in the Ayurvedadipika of Cakrapanidatta.” In Navathy Pranamam (essays for V.M.C. Shankaran Namboodiri on his 90th birthday), V.M.D. Namboodiri (ed.). Venkitangu: Ullanoor Mana Trust.
- 2020. “Manuscriptistan.” Chazen Museum of Art, Faculty 2020 Exhibition, Madison, WI (Feb–Aug: 4 pieces, juried group exhibit).
- 2019. “Manuscriptistan.” Kamin Gallery, Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA (09 September – 13 December, 45 pieces).
- 2011. “കേരളം അനുദിനം/keraḷaṃ anudinaṃ/Kerala Everyday.” The Little Theatre, Rochester, NY (September-October, 20 pieces).
- 2011. “South India Snaps.” Mercer Gallery (“Director’s Choice”), Monroe Community College-SUNY (April-June, 16 pieces).
- 2010. “Malabari Manorama: Scenes from Kerala.” Demarest Hall, Hobart & William Smith Colleges (January-February, 25 pieces).
Among my current projects, I am working on are a translation of a Sanskrit allegory about medicine, statecraft, and the body (Jīvānandanam
); an historical ethnography about education among contemporary college-educated and traditionally-trained practitioners of Ayurveda and changes in ayurvedic education in India between 1890 and 1975; a study of Hanuman’s “medicine journey” to retrieve life-saving herbs in the Sanskrit Ramayana
and some of the episode’s iterative lives, both premodern and recent, in South Asia and elsewhere; a photoethnography project on the aesthetics of manuscript archives in India; and an edited volume on physicians and patients in premodern South Asia. I am also the Editor of India Review
and an Associate Editor of Asian Medicine
MembershipsAmerican Academy of Religion
Association for Asian Studies
Classical Ayurvedic Texts Society
European Association for the Study of Religion
Int’l Assoc. for the Study of Traditional Asian Medicine
Kerala Council for Historical Research