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Speakers

Associate Professor, Dept. for Religious Studies and Classics, The University of Arizona

Caleb Simmons and Manu S Pillai talk about how sovereignty was conceived in India in the 18th and 19th centuries. They explore how two very different rules of Mysore: Tipu Sultan and Krishnaraja Wodeyar III laid their claims to sovereign rule over their kingdom. They discuss Caleb’s recent book, Devotional Sovereignty: Kingship and Religion in India.

Dr. Caleb Simmons is an Associate Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Arizona. He specialises in religion in South Asia, especially Hinduism. His research spans religion and state-formation in medieval and colonial India to contemporary transnational aspects of Hinduism.

Manu S. Pillai is a historian and author of several books, most recently The Courtesan, the Mahatma & the Italian Brahmin: Tales from Indian History. He is currently pursuing his PhD from King’s College London.

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Speakers

Caleb Simmons

Associate Professor, Dept. for Religious Studies and Classics, The University of Arizona

Dr. Caleb Simmons (Ph.D. in Religion, University of Florida) specialises in religion in South Asia, especially Hinduism. His research specialties span religion and state-formation in medieval and colonial India to contemporary transnational aspects of Hinduism. His book Devotional Sovereignty: Kingship and Religion in India (Oxford University Press, 2020), examines how the late early modern/early colonial court of Mysore re-envisioned notions of kingship, territory, and religion, especially its articulations through devotion. He is currently working on a second monograph, Singing the Goddess into Place: Folksongs, Myth, and Situated Knowledge in Mysore, India that examines popular local folksongs that tell the mythology of Mysore’s Chamundeshwari and her consort Nanjundeshwara. He also edited (with Moumita Sen and Hillary Rodrigues) and contributed to Nine Nights of the Goddess: The Navarātri Festival in South Asia (SUNY Press 2018) a collected volume that focuses on various aspects of the important festival of Navaratri. He also has publications and continuing research interests related to a broad range of contemporary topics, including ecological issues and sacred geography in India; South Asian diaspora communities; and material and popular cultures that arise as a result of globalisation—especially South Asian religions as portrayed in comic books and graphic novels. He teaches courses on Hinduism, Indian religions, and method and theory of Religious Studies. He also currently serves as the Book Review editor for Religion (Routledge) and the website manager for the American Academy of Religion Religion in South Asia Unit.

Manu S Pillai

Author

Manu S. Pillai is the author of The Ivory Throne (2015), Rebel Sultans (2018), and most recently, The Courtesan, the Mahatma & the Italian Brahmin: Tales from Indian History (2019). Written over six years and researched in three continents, The Ivory Throne won the 2017 Sahitya Akademi Yuva Puraskar. Formerly Chief of Staff to Dr Shashi Tharoor MP, he has in the past worked at the House of Lords in Britain, and with the BBC on their Incarnations history series. His other writings have appeared in The HinduOpen Magazine, the Times of IndiaHindustan TimesThe New Statesman, Mint Lounge and other publications.