Historian of religion and law in South and Southeast Asia, using Sanskrit texts and inscriptions in Prakrit, Sanskrit, Old Javanese, and Classical Tamil. I study the formation and spread of Brahmanical ideals and institutions in the ancient and early medieval periods.
National Endowment for the Humanities fellow, 2020–21
American Council for Learned Societies fellow, 2020–21
Head of the Law, Justice, and Society Program at WLU.
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EducationBA Columbia, MTS Harvard, PhD Columbia.
Work Shared in CORE
ProjectsThe Authority of the Brahmins
Part I. The Invention of Brahmanical Dharma.
A study of the use of ascetical disciplinary practices to configure Brahmins as religious professionals comparable to Buddhist and Jaina mendicants, equally deserving of veneration and patronage though they “remain in the home”; this model, developed in the centuries spanning the Maurya to Gupta dynasties, provided a framework for promoting ethical and legal norms that became widely influential, and served to confer status and authority.
Part II. The Expanding Orbit of Dharma’s Authority: Appropriations on the Peripheries
A study of the institutional and political mechanisms by which a Brahmin priestly elite succeeded in translating its religious authority into a vehicle for social, legal, and cultural influence between the 1st c. and the 12th c. CE.
Editions and studies of Sanskrit and Old Javanese texts on religious law.
Upcoming Talks and Conferences“Textual Modes of Javanese Legal Ordering,” invited paper for the EFEO Workshop on Legal Orders in Precolonial Southeast Asia, Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Anthropology Centre, Bangkok, in association with the DHARMA project (ERC 809994), 14–15 June 2023.
“Hellenistic Precedents for Immunity Clauses in Indian Grant Charters,” paper for the 233rd Annual Meeting of the AOS, Los Angeles, 10–13 March 2023.
“Old Javanese Śāsana Texts as Innovations in Indic Legal Science,” paper for the 18th World Sanskrit Conference, Law and Society Section, Canberra, 9–13 January 2023 (via web).
“Endowment Charters as Legal and Political Instruments,” paper for a panel “Inscriptions as Social Artefacts: Revisiting South Asian Epigraphic Cultures,” Deutscher Orientalistentag, Freie Universität Berlin, 12–17 September 2022.
“Grants of Jurisdictional Rights in Licchavi Nepal,” paper for a British Academy conference on “Licchavi Heritage at the Crossroads: Multidisciplinary Approaches to History and Heritage in Nepal,” 5–6 September 2022, Oxford University.
MembershipsAOS (director-at-large, 2015–2018, 2020-2023), American Academy of Religion, International Association of Sanskrit Studies (regional director for the U.S. and Canada, 2018–2025), Association for Asian Studies, North American Association for the Study of Religion, Pali Text Society