Amy Allocco named Distinguished Emerging Scholar in Religious Studies

The professorship supports research, travel and professional development.

Elon University President Leo M. Lambert has named Amy L. Allocco the Distinguished Emerging Scholar in Religious Studies. The professorship recognizes a junior faculty member who has potential for a distinguished academic career in religious studies. The professorship provides support for research, travel and professional development.

Allocco joined the Elon faculty as assistant professor of religious studies in 2009 after completing her doctorate in the West and South Asian Religions program in the Graduate Division of Religion at Emory University. She holds a master of theological studies degree from Harvard Divinity School and a bachelor’s degree from Colgate University. Allocco’s research focuses on vernacular Hinduism, especially contemporary Hindu ritual traditions and women’s religious practices, in the state of Tamil Nadu in South India, where she has been studying, learning the Tamil language and conducting fieldwork since 1995. Trained both as an ethnographer of South Asian religions and in approaches to Hindu textual traditions, Allocco has developed specializations in performance and ritual studies as well as gender and religion.

Among her most recent publications is a book chapter titled “Snake Goddess Traditions in Tamilnadu” in Contemporary Hinduism (Acumen 2013) and an article in The Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, which won the journal’s Second Place Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza New Scholar Award. In addition to an article forthcoming in Religions of South Asia, she also has multiple forthcoming or in-process book chapters for volumes focused on non-human animals in Asian religions; South Asian myth, ritual, and folklore; and ritual change in Indian religions. Allocco is currently completing her first book project, tentatively titled, “Snake Goddesses and Anthills: Modern Challenges and Women’s Ritual Responses in Contemporary South India,” and is co-editing a book titled “Ritual Innovation in South Asian Religions” with Brian K. Pennington.

Since coming to Elon, Allocco has given 11 conference presentations and delivered several invited lectures at universities in North America and in India. She has also held leadership positions in regional and national professional organizations. Her current roles include serving as the Chair of the American Academy of Religion’s International Connections Committee and on the Board of Directors for the Society for Hindu-Christian Studies.

Allocco has been awarded fellowships by the American Institute of Indian Studies (AIIS), the American Association of University Women (AAUW), Fulbright International Institute for Education (IIE), and Fulbright-Hays to support her research and writing. In 2012 she was awarded the Excellence in Teaching Award from Elon College, the College of Arts and Sciences.

Allocco succeeds Michael Pregill, who was appointed Distinguished Emerging Scholar in Religious Studies in 2007, and Rebecca Todd Peters, who was appointed the first Distinguished Emerging Scholar in Religious Studies in 2001.

Allocco currently serves as teacher-scholar-in-residence in Elon’s new Global Neighborhood residential complex, a position she assumed following three years in the Faculty-in-Residence role in the Isabella Cannon International Pavilion. In addition to co-teaching a collaborative study abroad course with Maryville College in South India during the Winter Term, Allocco offers courses in Religious Studies, Women’s & Gender Studies, and Asian Studies focused on Hindu traditions, Hindu goddesses, ethnography and religion, and women in Islam. Allocco previously taught at Maryville College, Wofford College and Emory University.