George Pati

Surjit S. Patheja Chair in World Religions and Ethics
Associate Professor of South Asian Religions and Cultures
Associate Professor of International Studies

Arts and Sciences Building 310
219.464.6110
george.pati@valpo.edu

Biography

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 is the recipient of Valparaiso University’s Excellence in Teaching Award in 2016-17. He regularly teaches courses on Hinduism, Indian Religions and Cultures, Theories and Methods in the Study of Religion, Sacred Spaces, Bodies, and Rituals, and Chinese and Japanese religions. His expertise is in Hinduism, Malayalam language and literature, Kerala history and culture, and body and religion. 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 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 three projects, 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 translation of Ceruśśēri’s Kṛṣṇagātha (15th Cent.) from Malayalam to English, and a handbook, Handbook on Religion and the Body (co-edited with Yudit Greenberg).   

Some of his peer reviewed chapters, articles, and entries include,

  • 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.
  • Temple and Human Bodies: Representing Hinduism. International Journal of Hindu Studie 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.
  • In Knut A. Jacobsen, ed., Brill’s Encyclopedia of Hinduism: Regions, Pilgrimage, and Deities. Volume 1. Leiden: E. J. Brill, 2009: pp. 221-231.

Education

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

Interests 

  • Religions of South Asia
  • Hinduism
  • Devotional Traditions of India
  • Malayalam Language and Literature
  • Kerala History and Culture
  • Body and Religion
  • Rituals and Performances
  • Theories & Methods in the Study of Religion
  • Comparative Religions

Courses Taught

  • 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
  • EAST 393: Chinese Culture and Civilization
  • THEO 200 (WIC): Christian Traditions
  • THEO 360: Religions of South Asia
  • THEO 492: Research and Writing in the Discipline
  • 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

Memberships

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