Mr. Drew Thomases
Specialization: Theology and Religion
Home institution in US: Columbia University, New York City, New York
Host Institution in India: University of Rajasthan, Jaipur  
Start date/Month in India: September 2012
Duration of grant: 9 months

Brief Bio:
Mr. Drew Thomases is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Religion at Columbia University, New York studying the religious traditions of South Asia. He received a B.A. summa cum laude in Asian studies and religion from Hamilton College, New York, and a M.A. and M.Phil. in religion from Columbia University. He is currently pursuing his dissertation research on the dynamics of colonial travel, Hindu pilgrimage and contemporary tourism in Pushkar, India. Aside from his focus on South Asia, Drew is also interested in theory and method in the study of religions--especially the works of Walter Benjamin and Georges Bataille--as well as broader developments in the anthropology of religion.

Mr. Thomases’ Fulbright research project, “Brahma, Pushkar, and a History of Encounter,” takes the Hindu god, Brahma, and the town of his worship, Pushkar, to constitute a site of encounter, where people of disparate lands and religions come face-to-face. Through ethnographic work on the relationship between tourists and locals in Pushkar, and archival research on early travelers in India, his dissertation explores how the narrative of encounter provides a catalyst for the production of religious boundaries.