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Joyce B. Flueckiger
Emory University (Atlanta, GA 30322-1018)
Material Acts: Agency of Materiality in India

This project will articulate an indigenous Indian theory of the agency of materiality through performative and ethnographic analyses of material associated with religious practices. The title, Material Acts, plays off J.L. Austin's term "speech acts"--utterances that do/create something. In an Indian worldview, both animate and inanimate things/beings have the potential to act--to transform and create (meaning, identity, theology). I will listen for how people talk about and use particular materialities, focusing on: female guising by male festival celebrants, women's ornaments, material abundance of Hindu ritual, cement figures who are not worshipped, and goddess shrine architecture. I conclude by abstracting from these examples a broad Indian/Hindu theory of material agency that will expand the boundaries of "what counts" in the study of religion and offer new ways to think about materiality in the wider study of religion, contributing to NEH's Bridging Cultures initiative.

[Grant products]

Project fields:
Folklore and Folklife; Nonwestern Religion; South Asian Studies

Summer Stipends

Research Programs

$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2014 – 8/31/2014