Eliza Kent | Colgate University - Faculty Directory

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Eliza Kent

Associate Professor of Religion
Religion, 301D Lawrence Hall
p 315-228-7688

Degree

BA, Williams College, 1989; MA (1992), PhD (1999), University of Chicago

Teaching Experience

Introduction to the Study of Religion, Theory and Method in the Study of Religion, Hinduism, Religion in Modern India, Health and Healing in Asian Religions, Religion and Environmentalism in South Asia, Core India, Religions in America (Asian Religions focus)

Specialties

Theory and method in the study of religion, religiosity among low caste communities in India, religion and environmentalism, syncretism, conversion and other "side-effects" of religious pluralism. 

Interests

I have broad interests in the study of religion in India and have researched many topics including shamanism, ancestor worship, conversion to Christianity and environmentalism and village Hinduism.  I believe the question that connects all my work has to do with how people draw on religious discourse in order to find support for projects both liberatory and oppressive.  My latest project investigates the religious meanings attributed to trees and forests by people in rural Tamil Nadu in a context of rapid deforestation. 

Publications

  • Sacred Groves and Local Gods: Religion and Environmentalism in South India (New York: Oxford University Press, forthcoming).
  • “Introduction: Drawing Lines in Water: The Construction of Religious Boundaries in South Asia,” [editor’s introduction], Lines in Water: Religious Boundaries in South Asia (Syracuse University Press, forthcoming). 
  • “Syncretism and Sin: An Independent Christian Church in Nineteenth-Century South India,” in Lines in Water: Religious Boundaries in South Asia (Syracuse University Press, forthcoming).
  • What Are You Going to Do with a Degree in That? Arguing for the Humanities in an Era of Efficiency,” Arts & Humanities in Higher Education 11, 3 (July-August 2012) (forthcoming). 
  • "Secret Christians of Sivakasi: Gender, Syncretism, and Crypto-Religion in Early Twentieth-Century South India," Journal of the American Academy of Religion 79, 3 (September 2011): 676-705.
  • “Forests of Belonging: The Contested Meanings of Trees and Forests in Indian Hinduism” [editor’s introduction], Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture 4, 2 (June 2010): 129-138.
  • “A Road Runs through It: Changing Meanings in a Sacred Grove in Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu,” Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture 4, 2 (June 2010): 213-231.
  • "Sacred Groves and Local Gods: Religion and Environmentalism in South India,” Worldviews: Global Religions, Culture, and Ecology (April 2009)
  • “’What’s Written on the Forehead Will Never Fail’: Karma, Fate and Headwriting in Indian Folktales,” Asian Ethnology (June 2009).
  • "Fierce Gods and Dense Forest: Sacred Groves in Coromandel," with M.P. Ramanujam, Indian Folklife [Chennai, India] 26 (July 2007): 14-19
  • "Landscapes of Changes: Recent Ethnography on the Religious Meanings of Trees and Forests in India" [editor's introduction], Indian Folklife [Chennai, India] 26 (July 2007): 3-4.
  • "Mass Movements in South India, 1877-1936," in Converting Cultures: Religion, Ideology and Transformations of Modernity, ed. by Kevin Reinhart and Dennis Washburn (Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill Press, 2007).
  • "Raja Clarinda - Widow, Concubine, Patroness: Women's Leadership in the Indian Church," in The Beginning of the Protestant Churches in India, The Danish-Halle Mission in South India (1706-1845), vol. 2, 659-683 (Halle, Germany: The Francke Foundation, 2006).
  • Converting Women: Gender and Christianity in Colonial South India (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004).   Received a CHOICE Award for Outstanding Academic Title of 2004 from the American Library Association.   Received Award for Best Book in Hindu-Christian Studies for 2003-2005 from the Society for Hindu-Christian Studies. 
  • "Representing Caste in the Classroom: Perils, Pitfalls and Potential Insight," Method and Theory in the Study of Religion 17, 3 (2005): 231-241.
  • "Books and Bodices: Material Culture and Protestant Missions in Colonial South India," in Mixed Messages: Materiality, Textuality, Missions, ed. by Gareth Griffiths and Jamie S. Scott, 67-87 (St. Martin's/Macmillan/Palgrave, 2005).
  • "Law of the Land: Indigenous Marriage Practices, Caste and Indian Christians in Nineteenth-Century India," Vidyajoti: Journal of Theological Reflection (Delhi) (June, 2005): 431-443.
  • "Hinduism and Indian Ecstatic Religions"  in Encyclopedia of Shamanism, ed. Mariko Walker and Eva Fridman (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2004).
  • "Redemptive Hegemony and the Ritualization of Reading," in Riting Between the Lines: Popular Christianity in India, ed. by Corinne Dempsey and Selva Raj (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2002).
  • "Tamil Bible Women in the Zenana Missions of Colonial Tamil Nadu," in History of Religions 39, 2 (November 1999)
  • "Ancestor Worship," in The Encyclopedia of Women and World Religion, Serenity Young, Editor in Chief (New York: Macmillan, 1998).

Professional Experience

American Theological Library Association index analyst 2001-02

Distinctions

  • National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship for "Sacred Groves and Local Gods: Religion and Environmentalism in South India," June 2006-December 2006
  • American Institute for Indian Studies, Senior Short Term Research Grant for "Sacred Groves and Local Gods: Religion and Environmentalism in South India," 2005-2006
  • Major grant, Colgate University, for "Sacred Groves and Local Gods: Religion, Environmentalism and Nationalism in Tamil Nadu," summer 2004
  • Committee on South Asian Studies Dissertation Support Fellowship, University of Chicago 1997-99
  • Center for Gender Studies Research Grant, University of Chicago 1998
  • Woodrow Wilson Dissertation Grant in Women's Studies, 1997-98
  • Fulbright IIE Dissertation Research Fellowship 1996-97
  • American Institute for Indian Studies Junior Research Grant 1996-97
  • Foreign Language Area Studies Academic Year Fellowships in Tamil 1992-95
  • American Institute for Indian Studies Summer Fellowship, Madurai, India 1993

Board Membership

Religion in South Asia Section of the American Academy of Religions Steering Committee (former member); Compass (Religion) Editorial Board; Journal of Hindu-Christian Studies Editorial Board.