The associate professor in the department of Religious Studies presented two lectures at universities in Sri Lanka with funding from a U.S. Fulbright Scholar South and Central Asia Regional Travel Grant
With support from a U.S. Fulbright Scholar South and Central Asia Regional Travel Grant, Associate Professor of Religious Studies Amy Allocco recently delivered two invited lectures in Sri Lanka.
Allocco’s talk at the University of Jaffna, “Narrative and Ritual at a Tamil Shakti Peetham: Mel Malaiyanur Ankalaparameswari,” linked two key stories from the mythology surrounding the popular Hindu goddess Ankalaparameswari in South India to an important goddess temple and pilgrimage destination located in the far north of Sri Lanka, on one of Jaffna’s islands. Her presentation analyzed oral narratives from the famous South Indian Ankalaparameswari temple located in Mel Malaiyanur, Tamil Nadu alongside the site’s written histories, architectural plan, and visual texts and located these Tamil sources vis-à-vis the paradigmatic Sanskrit textual tradition.
The Department of Fine Arts hosted Allocco’s lecture along with the University of Jaffna’s departments of Sociology and Religion.
Allocco’s second presentation was co-sponsored by the Colombo Branch Office of the University of Heidelberg’s South Asia Institute and the Social Policy Analysis and Research Center, both located at the University of Colombo in Sri Lanka’s capital city.
Titled “The Goddess in the Anthill: Myth, Place, and Healing Rituals in Tamil South India,” the lecture focused on the repertoire of healing rituals that have developed out of one local Hindu goddess’s mythological and song traditions. Allocco focused on the economic dimensions of these ceremonies and traced the social implications of their contemporary popularity.
At both universities Allocco consulted with graduate students and met with faculty members as part of her visit.
Funded by the U.S. Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs, the Fulbright Regional Travel Grant program enables current Fulbright scholars to visit another country to present lectures, consult with scholars and students, and engage in other professional activities. Allocco is currently in India with a Fulbright-Nehru Academic and Professional Excellence Fellowship in order to conduct research for a project focusing on Hindu death rituals. She is on sabbatical and research leave this academic year and in January will shift to a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Institute of Indian Studies to continue her fieldwork on the same research project.