George Pati


George Pati Surjit S. Patheja Chair In World Religions and Ethics Professor Of South Asian Religions and Cultures 219.464.6110 Arts and Sciences Building 310


Professor George Pati joined Valparaiso University faculty in 2006 after earning his PhD in Religious Studies and South Asian Languages and Cultures from the University Professors Program, Boston University. He was named the Surjit S. Patheja Chair in World Religions and Ethics in 2011. He is trained in a wide variety of methods including, history of religions, ethnographic fieldwork, and comparative religions. His areas of specialization include religions of South Asia, Hinduism, devotional traditions of India, Malayalam language and literature, and the body and Religion. He regularly teaches courses on Hinduism; Indian Religions and Cultures; Theories and Methods in the Study of Religion; Chinese and Japanese Religions; and Sacred Spaces, Bodies, and Rituals. He has also taught in China and led Study Abroad programs to China. His teaching was recognized with the Valparaiso University Excellence in Teaching Award in the year 2016-17, and was nominated for the Valparaiso University Alumni Association Distinguished Teaching Award in 2020.

He is especially interested in the embodiment of devotion, bhakti, through texts, rituals, and performances in the Malayalam language. His research interests come together in his publications. His first book, Religious Devotion and the Poetics of Reform: Love and Liberation in Malayalam Poetry (Routledge, 2019) is a study of Malayalam poetry authored by Kumāran Āśān (1873-1924) emphasizing the importance of bhakti as both passionate expressions toward the deity and resistance and reform movement during colonial period in Kerala. His second book, Transformational Embodiment in Asian Religions: Subtle Bodies, Spatial Bodies (co-edited with Katherine C. Zubko) (Routledge, 2020) is a discussion of transformational embodiment in different Asian religions, regions, and historical periods problematizing the study of body.

Currently, he is working on a monograph, Hindu Bodies as Threshold: Rituals and Performances of Kerala, South India (under contract, Routledge), which is an ethnography that explores the many expressions of embodiment among Hindus in Kerala; a handbook, Handbook on Religion and the Body (co-edited with Yudit Greenberg) (under contract, Routledge); and a translation of Ceruśśēri’s Kṛṣṇagātha (15th Cent.) from Malayalam to English.

He has served as the Co-Chair of the Body and Religion Group of the American Academy of Religion (AAR) for two terms (2012-17), and currently serves on two Steering Committees of the American Academy of Religion: Arts, Literature, and Religion and Body and Religion, and is on the editorial board of thejournal, Body and Religion.

Some of his peer reviewed publications include,

Sree Narayana Guru. In Oxford Bibliographies in Hinduism. Ed. Tracy Coleman. New York: Oxford University Press, 2020. DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780195399318-0234

Transformational Embodiment in Kṛṣṇanāṭṭam of Kerala. Journal of Vaishnava Studies. Vol.27, No.2, 2019: pp.191-207.

Movements, Miracles, and Mysticism: Apotheosis of Sree Narayana Guru of Early Twentieth Century Kerala. In Diana Dimitrova and Tatiana Oranskaia, eds., Divinization in South Asian Traditions. London and New York: Routledge, 2018: pp.115-130.

Feet like Lotus Powder. In Wendy Doniger, ed., Hinduism: Norton Anthology of World Religion. Vol.1. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2015: pp.370-372.        

Nambūtiris and Ayyappan Devotees in Kerala. In P. Pratap Kumar, ed., Contemporary Hinduism. London and New York: Routledge, 2014: pp.204-216.

Narayana Guru. In Knut A. Jacobsen, ed., Brill’s Encyclopedia of Hinduism: Symbolism, Diaspora, Modern Issues. Volume 5. Leiden: E. J. Brill, 2013: pp. 559-565.

Kerala Hinduism. In Oxford Bibliographies in Hinduism. Ed. Alf Hiltebeitel. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012. DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780195399318-0126

Temple and Human Bodies: Representing Hinduism. International Journal of Hindu Studies. Vol.15, No.2, 2011: pp. 191-207.

Kaḷari and Kaḷarippayaṭṭu of Kerala, South India: Nexus of the Celestial, the Corporeal, and the Terrestrial. Contemporary South Asia. Vol.18, No.2, 2010: pp.175-189.

Regional Tradition, Kerala. In Knut A. Jacobsen, ed., Brill’s Encyclopedia of Hinduism: Texts, Rituals, Arts, Concepts. Volume 2. Leiden: E. J. Brill, 2010: pp.606-114.

Mohiniyāṭṭam: An Embodiment of the Aesthetic and the Religious. Journal of Hindu Studies. Vol.3, 2010: pp. 91-113.

Body as Sacred Space in Kaḷaricikitsā of Kerala, South India. Religions of South Asia. Vol. 3, No.2, 2009: pp. 235-250.

Kerala. In Knut A. Jacobsen, ed., Brill’s Encyclopedia of Hinduism: Regions, Pilgrimage, and Deities. Volume 1. Leiden: E. J. Brill, 2009: pp. 221-231.


Ph.D., The University Professors Program, Boston University (Religious Studies and South Asian Languages and Cultures)


  • Religions of South Asia
  • Hinduism
  • Devotional Traditions of India
  • Anthropology of Religion
  • Body and Religion
  • Rituals and Performances
  • Malayalam Language and Literature
  • Kerala History and Culture


  • THEO 492: Research and Writing in the Discipline
  • THEO 493: Senior Seminar 
  • THEO 393: Theories and Methods in the Study of Religion
  • THEO 367: Sacred Spaces, Bodies, and Rituals
  • THEO 367: Religion, Film, and Body
  • THEO 367: Hinduism
  • THEO 367: Hindu Sacred Texts and Motifs
  • THEO 367: Devotional Traditions of India
  • THEO 367: Religion, Rituals, and Performances
  • THEO 367: Narratives of Love in South Asian Literature
  • THEO 361: Indian Religions and Cultures
  • THEO 363: Religions of China and Japan
  • THEO 200 (WIC): Asian Christianities
  • THEO 200 (WIC) OL: Asian Christianities
  • CORE 110: The Human Experience
  • THEO 360: Religions of South Asia
  • THEO 495: Goddess, Saints, and Women of India
  • THEO 495: History of South Asian Civilization
  • THEO 495: Contemporary India and Beyond
  • THEO 495: Buddhism
  • THEO 369: Perspectives on Religious Quest
  • THEO 495: Elementary Sanskrit Language
  • THEO 495: Elementary and Intermediate Hindi Language
  • EAST 393: Chinese Culture and Civilization


  • American Academy of Religion
  • Association for Asian Studies
  • European Association for South Asian Studies
  • Kerala Council for Historical Research
  • Society for Hindu-Christian Studies