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Vijaya Nagarajan, Ph.D.

Chair of the Department of Theology and Religious Studies, University of San Francisco

Vijaya Nagarajan is an associate professor in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies and in the Program of Environmental Studies. She is currently Chair of the Department of Theology and Religious Studies. In addition to teaching at the University of San Francisco, she has also taught at the University of California, Berkeley and Harvard University.

Vijaya's academic interests weave among the fields of Hinduism, Environment, Gender, Ritual, and the Commons. She received her PhD in South Asian Language and Literatures from UC Berkeley. Vijaya has received grants, fellowships, and awards from University of San Francisco (Davies Chair, Jesuit Foundation, NEH Chair, Post-Sabbatical), Harvard University, UC Berkeley, Fulbright-Hays, Oxford University, American Institute of Indian Studies, California Tamil Academy, American Academy of Religion, Djerassi Resident Artist Program, and MESA Refuge.

Vijaya has been devoted to the environmental movement for several decades in both India and the Bay Area. She is the co-founder of The Recovery of the Commons Project and the Institute for the Study of Natural and Cultural Resources, where she has co-organized events with a large range of scholars, activists and artists.

Her book, Feeding A Thousand Souls: Women, Ritual and Ecology in India, an Exploration of the kōlam, launches during the Fall 2018. Every day millions of Tamil women in southeast India wake up before dawn to create the kōlam, a ritual design made of rice flour, on the thresholds of homes. This thousand year old ritual welcomes and honors the goddesses Lakshmi and Bhudevi. Propelled by a lifelong wonder, and fueled by deeply informed research, Vijaya Nagarajan provides a poetic and surprising entryway into the layered complexities of this ritual practice. Braiding Tamil women's voices and the author's own stories, Feeding a Thousand Soulsbrings into conversation different knowledge traditions––beauty, history, literature, religion, anthropology, mathematics, and ecology. You can find more information on the Oxford University Press website.

Image Credits: Alpheus Media

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