Temple Cultures and Premodern Worlds

Organized by Subhashini Kaligotla (History of Art, Yale) and Hannah Baader Supported by The Edward J. and Dorothy Clarke Kempf Memorial Fund and The Whitney and Betty MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies at Yale and the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz

We would like to inform our guests that this event has been canceled.


An international and inter-disciplinary conference that brings together new research on temple cultures in South and Southeast Asia. Concentrating on the premodern period but extending into the twentieth century, the papers in the conference conceive of temple in the broadest possible terms, to encompass basadichaityamasjid, and prasada. Our aim is to look beyond the monument, consider the larger social and environmental contexts in which temples were enmeshed, and analyze the sensorial, built, and imaginative worlds in which temple makers and users participated. The range of themes, include, but are not limited to, issues of temple spaces as material and cultural palimpsests, the imaginative resources of temple sculptors, cross-fertilizations across architectural and cosmological models, problems of access to temple spaces, the role of esoteric religious practices in activating temple environments, temple rituals and ritual objects, access to food, shelter, and even alcohol in quotidian temple life, and the long-distance land and maritime networks that sustained temples. In addressing these questions, the papers reanalyze current categories for understanding temple cultures, present a thorough reassessment of the state of the field, and point towards developing fields of inquiry. The conference presents new studies on Brahmanical, Buddhist, Islamic, and Jain built spaces, as well as their intersections and interstices.  



Three-dimensional maṇḍalas from Southeast Asia: Initiation, Power, and Maritime Connectivity across the Medieval Buddhist Cosmopolis
Andrea Acri
Maître de conférences, Section des Sciences Religieuses, École Pratique des Hautes Études

Mirrors in Hindu Consecration Rituals and Image worship
Naman Ahuja
Professor, School of Arts and Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University

Sculptural Marginalia in Hoysaḷa Temples of South India
Daud Ali
Associate Professor and Chair, South Asia Studies, University of Pennsylvania

The stupa at Sopara: Looking Beyond the Buddhist Remains
Pia Brancaccio
Professor of Art History, Drexel University             

Seeing double: The Tantrāloka, the Bṛhadīśvara temple and the history of medieval Śaivism
Whitney Cox
Associate Professor and Chair, Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations, University of Chicago

Archaism and the Palimpsest: Bhonsle Temple Architecture at Ramtek
Madhuri Desai
Associate Professor of Art History and Asian Studies, Director of Graduate Studies in Art History, Penn State University

Commensurable Cosmologies and Cosmographies in Sultanate Deccan
Emma Flatt
Associate Professor of History, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Written in Stone: Negotiating Space and Religious Identity  Early Medieval South India
Julie Hanlon  
Assistant Director, Graduate Student and Postdoctoral Programs, Chicago Center for Teaching and Learning, University of Chicago

Temples and Urban Experience in Premodern South Asia: Monuments for the City
Katherine Kasdorf
Associate Curator, Arts of Asia and the Islamic World, Detroit Institute of Arts

Inside and outside the Indian mosque, and somewhere in between: Indic ritual spatialities in the South Asian mosque
Elizabeth Lambourn 
Reader in South Asian and Indian Ocean Studies, School of Humanities, De Montfort University

Alcohol Culture and Indian Temples
James McHugh
Associate Professor of Religion, University of Southern California, Dornsife

Landscape as Temple: Ideologies of Food, Water, and Irrigation in Middle Period Southern India
Kathleen Morrison
Sally and Alvin V. Shoemaker Professor and Chair, Department of Anthropology, University of Pennsylvania

Remaking Konark in the 20th Century: Postcolonial Elisions and the Troubling Persistence of India's Plastic Past
Tamara Sears
Associate Professor of Art History, Rutgers University

Heaven is a Gopura
Anna Seastrand
Assistant Professor, Department of Art History, University of Minnesota 

The Temples Hemadapanti Did Not Make
Pushkar Sohoni
Associate Professor and Chair, Humanities and Social Science, Data Science, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Pune


This event will be documented photographically and/or recorded on video. Please let us know if you do not agree with the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz using images in which you might be recognizable for event documentation and public relation purposes (e.g. social media).

03 – 05 April 2020

Yale University

Henry R. Luce Hall (LUCE ), 203
34 Hillhouse Avenue
New Haven, CT 06511


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