Prof. Christian Novetzke
Specialization: Religion, History, Culture, Marathi
Home institution in US: University of Washington, Seattle
Host Institution in India: Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, Pune, Maharastra  
Start date/Month in India: January 2013
Duration of grant: 9 months

Brief Bio:
Prof. Christian Lee Novetzke received a B.A. in Asian philosophy from Macalester College, Minnesota in 1993; an M.T.S. in religious studies from Harvard University, Massachusetts in 1996; and a Ph.D. in religious studies from Columbia University, New York in 2002. Prof. Novetzke was assistant professor of media, performance, and cultural studies of South Asia in the South Asia Studies Department of the University of Pennsylvania from 2002-2007. From 2007-2009 he was assistant professor of international studies at the University of Washington’s Jackson School of International Studies. Since 2009, he has been a tenured associate professor of South Asia studies, comparative religion, and international studies at the University of Washington, as well as adjunct faculty in history and Asian languages and literatures. Prof. Novetzke has been the recipient of a Javits Fellowship, several Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowships, an American Institute of Indian Studies Senior Fellowship, an American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship and a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship. He has written numerous articles on Indian culture, religion and history, as well as historiographic theories of religion in general. His book, Religion and Public Memory (CUP 2008), won the American Academy of Religion’s Best First Book in the History of Religions Award. Prof. Novetzke’s interests involve history and religion in cultural contexts in India, especially in Marathi-speaking regions, throughout the second millennium to the modern period.

Prof. Novetzke’s Fulbright project, “The Brahmin Double: Religion, Caste, Language, and Performance in Maharashtra, India, 1200-2000 CE,” examines religious and other performance materials from the thirteenth century to the present in Marathi and the modern Indian state of Maharashtra. He will explore how Brahmin performers and composers appear to be agents in the creation of anti-caste and, in particular, anti-Brahmin sentiment in public contexts. Prof. Novetzke situates this Brahminical anti-caste and anti-Brahmin discourse within a largely performative public sphere where Brahmins balanced their role as knowledge specialists in heterogeneous social, religious and cultural contexts where they were a significant minority. Here, Brahmin advocates of anti-Brahmin and anti-caste sentiment offered a ‘double’, a discursively constructed ‘Brahmin’, thus deflecting or diffusing criticism and enabling the Brahmin performer or composer to maintain a position of importance in the world of public performance and, later, public politics.