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Office Hours

M 11:00 AM-04:00 PM
Degree Program University
Ph.D. Human Sciences (Fields: Religious Studies, Cultural Anthropology, and Women's Studies) George Washington University
M.A. Religion The George Washington University
M.Phil. Human Sciences (Fields: Religious Studies, Cultural Anthropology, and Women's Studies) The George Washington University
M.A. Women's Studies Mother Teresa Women's University

My Siena Experience

My Teaching Philosophy

I believe teaching is a dialogic exercise in which students and the instructor actively learn together. I foster a classroom culture that encourages students to fully participate in classroom discussions. I encourage students to connect their classroom learning to their real-life experiences. I also ask them to critically engage with their learning so that they can examine the theoretical and methodological validity of the findings.

What I Love About Siena

(a) Fun and respectful students, and
(b) A collegial Religious Studies Department

My Favorite Courses to Teach

Goddesses in India and Beyond, World Religions, and all Honors courses.

My Professional Experience

Year Title University
2017 - Now Associate Professor of Religious Studies Siena College
2011 - 2017 Assistant Professor of Religious Studies Siena College
2010 - 2010 Summer Instructor Department of Asian Studies and Department of History, University of Manitoba
2010 - 2011 Visiting Assistant Professor of Religious Studies Claremont McKenna College
2009 - 2010 Advisory Editor Oxford University Press
2009 - 2010 Postdoctoral Associate/Fellow Rutgers Center for Historical Analysis, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
2008 - 2009 Adjunct Instructor/Part-time Faculty The George Washington University
2007 - 2008 Graduate Lecturer The George Washington University
2005 - 2005 Graduate Teaching Assistant The George Washington University
2004 - 2004 Graduate Teaching Assistant The George Washington University
2004 - 2004 Graduate Teaching Assistant The George Washington University
2003 - 2003 Research Assistant The George Washington University
2002 - 2004 Rapporteur, South Asia Seminar The George Washington University

Articles & Book Reviews

  • Sa. Kandasamy: A Pioneer of Minimalist Aesthetics in Modern Tamil Fiction
  • Sprouts of the Body, Sprouts of the Field: Identification of the Goddess with Poxes in South India
    Religions, vol. 10
  • Pariyerum Perumal: Anmai Colladalkalum Atikka Catiyudanana Uraiyadalkalum
  • Pirapulinkalilai Enum Akkumatevi Carittira Natakam: Caranarkalum Camanarkalum
    Kutu, vol. 3
  • Nationalist Fabric, Gendering Threads: Notes on Bharati's Draupadi,
    International Journal of Hindu Studies, vol. 18
  • The Ascetic Goddess Who is Half Woman: Female Authority in the Discourses of Mariyamman's Tapas
    Nidan: International Journal for the Study of Hinduism, vol. 24
    December, 2012
  • Book Review essay. Fierce Gods: Inequality, Ritual and the Politics of Dignity in South, by Diane P. Mines.
    History of Religions, vol. 47
  • Book Review essay. Stories About Posts: Vedic Variations Around the Hindu Goddess, by Madeleine Biardeau.
    Anthropological Quarterly, vol. 78

Awards & Distinctions

  •  Grant for doing summer research in libraries and archives in India
    Category: Research
    Siena College, 2015
  • Research Grant for archival research at the British Library, London
    Category: Research
    L & L Dallapiccola Foundation, Scotland, 2014

  • Category: Research
    Siena College, 2012
  • Offer Declined

    Category: Research
    Harvard University, 2011
  • Short-term fieldwork during Summer to gather songs on the goddess Mariyamman in Tamilnadu, India.

    Category: Research
    L & L Dallapiccola Foundation, Scotland, 2010

  • Category: Research
    The George Washington University, 2009
  • Short-term fieldwork to gather “origin” narratives of utukkai (hour-glass shaped music instrument) in Tamilnadu and Andhra Pradesh, India

    Category: Research
    L & L Dallapiccola Foundation, Scotland, 2009
  • Fellowship received during the AY 2007-2008

    Category: Teaching
    The George Washington University, 2007

  • Category: Other
    19th European Conference on Modern South Asian Studies, University of Leiden, Netherlands, 2006
  • For dissertation research in India during 2005-2006

    Category: Research
    American Institute of Indian Studies, 2005
  • Summer research

    Category: Research
    The George Washington University (Department of Anthropology), 2004
  • Field research on male actors performing female roles in ritual theatre in Tamilnadu, India,  Summer 2003

    Category: Research
    Voicing Silence, M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation, India, 2003

Books & Book Chapters

  • Akkamahadeviyin Vacanankal: Molipeyarppum Pirati Ayvum (Trans. Vacanas of Akkamahadevi: Translation and Textual Analysis)

  • Pumaniyai Vacittal (Trans. Reading Pumani: Essays in Literary Criticism)

  • Stories of the Flesh: Discourses of Mariyamman in South India

  • Tecam-Caati-Camayam: Atikarattaip Purintukollal
  • The Cults of Draupadi and Duryodhana in South India: The Mahabharata in an Antitriumphalist Mode

  • Pudumaippittan Cirukataikal: Eluttum 'Navinat' Tannilaikalum (Trans. Pudumaippittan's Short-stories: Writing and 'Modern' Subjects

  • Asokamittiranai Vasittal (Trans. Reading Asokamittiran: Essays in Literary Criticism)
  • Utal-Pal-Porul: Paliyal Vanmurai Enum Camukac Ceyarpatu
  • Inventing and Reinventing the Goddess: Contemporary Iterations of Hindu Deities on the Move.
    Lexington Books.
  • Religion in Literature and Film in South Asia
    Palgrave Macmillan
  • Reorienting Orientalism.


  • Itampeyartal: Penkalum Penteyvankalum
    January, 2020
    Literature in Diaspora: Resurrection of Rejected Histories, Madurai, India
  • Tracing Bhanumati through the Tamil Folklore and Field
    European Conference on South Asian Studies, Vienna, Austria
  • Discourses of Masculinity and Dialogue with Hegemonic Caste Groups: Dalit Politics in Pariyerum Perumal
    October, 2019
    Annual Conference on South Asia, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, United States of America
  • Asian Literatures in Translation
    December, 2018
    Plenary Lecture. Contextualizing Asian Literatures. Ethiraj College, Chennai, India
  • 'You Should not Cry': Vaishnava Discourses on Death and Mourning
    March, 2018
    The Senses and Spaces of Death, Dying and Remembering: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives, Leeds, United Kingdom
  • The Goddess as the Source of the Smallpox Vaccine
    February, 2018
    Workshop on "History of Science, Technology and Environment." Department of History, Periyar University, Salem, India
  • Textual Strategies and 'Translatorial Hexis': Gendered Voices in Asokamittiran
    September, 2017
    The Life of Tamil Literature in Translation: Histories and Controversies, South Asia Institute, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas
  • Response to Freud's Mahabharata by Dr. Alf Hiltebeitel
    Celebrating Alf Hiltebeitel, A symposium organized by the George Washington University, Washington D.C., District of Columbia
  • The Home and the Nation in Tamil Amman Films
    July, 2016
    "To Take Place: Culture, Religion and Home-Making in and Beyond South Asia" Conference, Chennai, India
  • Love Meets Death: "Honour," Caste and the Female Subject
    May, 2016
    Workshop, The Chicago Tamil Forum, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
  • Disrobing Draupadi: Gender in Text, Theatre, and Life
    November, 2015
    American Academy of Religion, Atlanta, Georgia
  • Construction of Home, Outer Space and Female Identity: Women Writing in Diaspora
    Tamil Beyond its Homeland, A conference organized by The Centre for Tamil Culture, Coimbatore, India, Coimbatore, India
  • Religious Legends and Reality: Subject-formation in Tamil Films
    One Hundred Years of Tamil Cinema. A conference organized by Visual Communication Department, Loyola College, Chennai, India and Katchipizhai, a film magazine, Chennai, India
  • Rethinking 'Possession' in the Context of Pox-affliction.
    Sacred Geographies, Religious Cultures and Popular Practices in History and Imagination. Organized by Government Arts College, Tiruvannamalai, India
  • Warring Goddess, Devoted Daughters: Female Subjectivities and Tamil Films.
    Moving On: South Asian Screen Cultures in a Broader Frame. University of Westminster, London, United Kingdom
  • Deity-Making and Territory-Making: Body, Poxes and Healing in South India
    November, 2012
    American Academy of Religion, Chicago, Illinois
  • Re-encoding Nostalgia and Encountering the Present: Discourses of Land and Time in 'Ayirathil Oruvan'
    May, 2012
    Tamil Studies Conference, Toronto, Canada
  • The Broken Pot and the Beheaded Body: Chastity as Heteronormative Power
    March, 2011
    Association for Asian Studies and International Convention of Asia Scholars, Honolulu, Hawaii
  • Body as Sacred Space: When the Goddess Arrives as Poxes
    November, 2009
    American Academy of Religion, Montreal, Canada
  • The Goddess as an Ascetic: Articulation of Tapas in Tamil Puranic and Folk Narratives
    November, 2009
    Dharma Association of North America Conference, Montreal, Canada
  • Ammai (affliction of poxes) as the Possession of the Goddess
    June, 2008
    20th European Conference on Modern South Asian Studies, Manchester, United Kingdom
  • 'I Gave Those Pills Only after Calling them Margosa Leaves': Healing Poxes and Measles in South India
    October, 2007
    36th Annual Conference on South Asia at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin
  • Enacting the Feminine: The Subject-Effect and Audiences
    October, 2007
    Feminist Pre-conference on South Asian Feminisms, 36th Annual Conference on South Asia at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin
  • Panchali Capatattil Pen Adaiyalam
    December, 2006
    International Conference on Tamil Literature: Bharathi, Pudumaippittan and Sundararamaswamy, Coimbatore, India
  • Myth as a Trope of Contemporary Social Dynamics: Notes on the Goddess and Castes
    October, 2006
    35th Annual Conference on South Asia at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin
  • The Creative Modern and the Myths of the Goddess of Poxes
    June, 2006
    19th European Conference on Modern South Asian Studies, Leiden, Netherlands
  • The 'Modern' as the Ritual Context
    February, 2005
    Anthropology Student Research Conference at The George Washington University, Washington, District of Columbia
  • Pen Vesham: Performing Body in Tamil Context
    October, 2004
    33rd Annual Conference on South Asia at University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin
  • Is Draupadi He or She? Violence in Text, Theatre and Life
    May, 2004
    "Identity, Group Psychology and Violence." Washington School of Psychiatry, Association for Psychoanalysis, Culture and Society and George Washington University, Washington, District of Columbia
  • Agency and Orientalist Discourse in the Colonial Tamil Context
    Rereading Orientalism, Jadavpur University, Calcutta, India