Dr. Andrew Rotman   
Fulbright-Nehru Project Title: "Branding the Indian Bazaar: Marketing, Religion, and the
Making of a Moral Economy"
Field of Study: Study of India
Home Institution in US: Smith College, Northampton, MA
Host Institution in India: Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh  
Start date/Month in India: January 2014
Duration of grant: Seven months

Brief Bio:
Dr. Andrew Rotman earned his BA in religion from Columbia University, a PhD in South Asian studies from the University of Chicago, and spent numerous years as a research scholar in South Asia before taking a job in the religion department at Smith College, where he has taught since 2000. Much of his research involves textual and ethnographic work on the role of narratives and images in South Asia and the religious, social and economic functions that they serve. This interest is apparent in his research on early Indian Buddhism, South Asian media and the economies of the North Indian bazaar.

His recent publications include Thus Have I Seen: Visualizing Faith in Early Indian Buddhism (Oxford University Press, 2009), which considers the construction of faith as a visual practice in Buddhism, and how seeing and faith function as part of intersecting visual and moral systems. He also released Divine Stories: Translations from the Divyavadana, part 1 (2008), the first half of a two-part translation of one of the most important collections of ancient Buddhist narratives. This volume inaugurated a new translation series from Wisdom Publications called Classics of Indian Buddhism.

His current research focuses on four book projects: (1) a translation of the second half of the Divyavadana (forthcoming); (2) Amar, Akbar, Anthony: Community, Nation, and Religion in a Landmark Hindi Film, co-written with Christian Novetzke and William Elison (Harvard University Press); (3) a social and economic history called Saving the World through Commerce? Buddhists, Merchants, and Mercantilism in Early India; and (4) an ethnography of the North Indian bazaar and its negotiation with neoliberalism called Branding the Indian Bazaar: Marketing, Religion, and the Making of a Moral Economy. He is also working on a documentary film to complement the ethnography, which considers local ways of mediating, disseminating and responding to transnational commodity images.

Dr. Rotman's Fulbright research focuses on the intersection of religion and the marketplace to make sense of the ways that branding has penetrated North Indian commercial culture, proselytizing for products and converting consumers, and the ways that the bazaar has mediated and resisted this process through visual production, religious action and moral economics. This research, based on ethnographic and archival work in Varanasi, will offer insight into the ways that religion and its institutions support and mobilize economic systems, and the ways that changes in economic systems challenge religious thought and practice, social relations, cultural institutions and political formations.