Elizabeth Cecil (Ph.D. 2016, Brown University) is trained as an historian of South and Southeast Asian religions with Sanskrit and Hindi as her primary research languages. Her forthcoming monograph—Mapping the Pāśupata Landscape: Narrative, Place, and the Śaiva Imaginary in Early North India (Brill, 2019)—explores the intersections of religion, politics, and place-making in Early Medieval India with a particular focus on the geographic expansion of a religious community called the Pāśupatas, devotees of the Hindu God Śiva. With her new projects, she investigates the dynamics of trans-regional religious networks in early South and Southeast Asia and explores the use of material media—ranging from monumental columns and terracotta sculptures, to pocket-sized shrines—to communicate innovative religious ideas and practices.
Since Elizabeth’s research relies heavily on the synthesis of primary sources, both textual and material, her research agenda is philologically and archeologically grounded and defined by a rigorous program of field research. She has conducted fieldwork across South and Southeast Asia (India, Nepal, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam) and cultivated multiple sub-specializations in the material cultures of these regions: epigraphy, landscape archeology, and traditions of temple architecture and iconography. Elizabeth’s textual scholarship focuses on inscriptions and Sanskrit narrative literature—particularly the genres of purāṇa and māhātmya—concerned with communicating religious identities and mapping sacred topography. In conceptualizing her work, she draws on phenomenological approaches to place and landscape, theorizes alternative archives, considers the social lives of images and objects, and explores the ways in which monuments and built landscapes were designed strategically to materialize political aspirations and religious ideologies.
Upcoming Courses (Fall 2019)
- REL 3333: Rāmāyaṇa in Indian Culture and Beyond
- REL4190/RELG 5195: Place, Space, and Religion
Current Courses (Spring 2019)
- REL3337: Goddesses, Women, Power
- REL3171/RLG5937: Religion and Ecology
- REL2315: Religions of South Asia
- REL4359/RLG5354: Pilgrimage in South Asia