Elon University / Today at Elon / Amy Allocco invited to give five talks in Europe in spring 2022

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While teaching at Elon’s Center in London last semester, Allocco presented her research at universities in four countries.

Associate Professor of Religious Studies Amy Allocco presented research on projects she is doing in South India at conferences and universities in four countries in the spring semester of 2022.

While a professor-in-residence at Elon’s center in London, Allocco was eager to connect with colleagues working in related fields at universities in the region and accepted spring invitations to lecture in Lithuania, in the Czech Republic, Austria and the United Kingdom.

An invitation to lecture at SOAS University of London in February provided the first opportunity to share his research. Allocco’s hour-long lecture, titled “Animating the Goddess and Feeding the Dead,” drew an audience of faculty and graduate students associated with the Center for Yoga Studies, which sponsored the lecture, as well as other scholars who have joined virtually. The lecture focused on the spectacular festival of Mayana Kollai (Looting of the Cemetery/Cremation Ground), hosted by a popular temple of the Hindu Goddess in Chennai, South India. It was inspired by the ethnographic fieldwork that Allocco conducted on the festival in 2019, 2016 and 2007, and brought to the fore the ritual process, myth, decoration and creativity in this unique context. Sabbi Lall, a recent graduate of the Traditions of Yoga and Meditation Graduate Program at SOAS, wrote an online essay about Allocco’s feminist anthropological conference and practices. Material from Allocco’s lecture appears in a chapter titled “Wonder in the Cremation Ground: The Affective and Transformative Dimensions of an Urban Tamil Hindu Festival” which is forthcoming in an edited volume to be published by State University of New York Press. in 2023.

After an exchange in the question-and-answer period after his SOAS lecture, Lubomír Ondračka from Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic, invited Allocco to present at his university. His April lecture, “Hindu Mortuary Practices and Ancestor Worship in Tamil South India,” was organized by the Institute of Asian Studies and the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at Charles University . In it, she offered an overview of the various Hindu death rituals and customs characteristic of the various Tamil-speaking South Indian communities, focusing in particular on the rituals of invitation designed to bring deceased relatives back into the world for let them settle as permanent deities in their family’s house. shrines. This invitation to a conference offered Allocco the opportunity to exchange with Ondračka and other professors of South Asian studies about his current book project, “Living with the Dead in South India”. South Hindu”. In addition, she also spoke with graduate students studying Tamil language at university in a separate mentorship session.

Later in April, Allocco visited Vytautas Magnus University in Kaunas, Lithuania, at the invitation of Milda Ališauskienė, a professor in the Department of Sociology and the Department of Political Science. Since 2020, Allocco and Ališauskienė have been co-coordinators of the International Association for the History of Religions (IAHR) Women Scholars Network, but have not been able to meet in person due to the pandemic. Allocco was invited to deliver the keynote address at the annual national conference of young sociologists and anthropologists at Vytautas Magnus University, as well as to present a lecture at a graduate seminar on global politics .

Entitled “Anthropology, human rights and politics: why and how do we research and study?” stock Exchange. The discussion following his speech focused on the concrete ways in which contemporary political contexts challenge and shape commitments, methodologies, and scholarly scholarship itself, particularly given the Russian attack on Ukraine. .

While visiting Vytautas Magnus University, Allocco also presented “Precariousness and Gender Politics in Urban South India” at a graduate seminar on Global Politics at the Department of Political Science. The students of this seminar read an article that Allocco recently published in “The Journal of Hindu Studies”, titled “Vernacular Practice, Gendered Tensions, and Interpretive Ambivalence in Hindu Death, Deification, and Domestication Narratives”. The discussion focused on changing gender roles and expectations in India’s current social and political contexts.

Allocco’s final guest lecture of the semester was sponsored by the Department of South Asian, Tibetan and Buddhist Studies at the University of Vienna in Austria. His talk, “Drumming and Dialogue: Summoning the Dead in Hindu South India”, focused on the class of priest-musicians who act as ritual specialists in vernacular non-Brahmanic Tamil Hinduism and preside over ceremonies to persuade the deceased relatives to dance and speak through their living relatives and return home to reside as the permanent household deities she sought. Specifically, his presentation analyzed the range of ritual elements – including verbal and material ornamentation, communication via flames, and summoning the dead from water sources – that these drummers oversee. He also highlighted the dialogues with the dead and a range of deities that are the centerpiece of these complex, multi-day ceremonies. Allocco argued for an expanded accounting of Hindu modes of engagement with the divine beyond what is currently described in scholarly literature on Hindu rituals and Hindu death practices.

As Professor-in-Residence at Elon’s Center in London this semester, Amy Allocco taught a CORE cornerstone titled “Curried Cultures: Food and Religion in London.” Taking London as her classroom and focusing on South Asian communities, she challenged students in her interdisciplinary cornerstone to examine the relationships between food, imperialism and religion. Together they sought to understand how histories of colonization, migration, multiculturalism and racism have shaped food practices in this context. The students’ readings and research were complemented by course visits to Hindu temples and Sikh ‘gurudwaras’, food walks and market visits, guest lectures, tastings and collaborative cooking classes to learn more about the lived experiences of London’s South Asian communities and the history of cooking. interactions between Britain and the Indian subcontinent. The students undertook research projects with an ethnographic dimension which offered them the opportunity to learn directly from the chefs and other actors of the restoration as well as members of the Hindu, Jain, Sikh, Christian and Muslim communities of the city. .

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