Ms. Deonnie Moodie

Grant Category: Fulbright-Nehru Student Research Program
Field of Specialization: Religion
Name: Ms. Deonnie Moodie  
Official Address: Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Massachusetts
Indian Host Institution: Calcutta University,
Kolkata, West Bengal
Duration of Grant &
Start Date :
Duration: 9 months
August 2011

Brief Bio:
Ms. Deonnie Moodie is a Ph.D. candidate in the study of religion at Harvard University. She focuses on contemporary religious practice in South Asia, specifically among goddess devotees in Bengal. Ms. Moodie has been traveling to India since 2002 while she was an undergraduate at Hope College where she received her Bachelor's degree in international studies and german. She earned her Master's degree in South Asian religions from Harvard Divinity School. While at the Divinity School, Ms. Moodie worked as a research associate for the Pluralism Project, a non-profit organization focused on religious diversity in the United States. She then went on to become their full-time research coordinator before enrolling in the Ph.D. program at Harvard. Ms. Moodie now teaches and assists in courses for Harvard undergraduates and Divinity School students on topics ranging from Hindu ritual to Islam in contemporary societies, to religion and literature. She received the Critical Languages Scholarship to study bangla twice, spending summers in Dhaka, Bangladesh and Kolkata, India. Her background in both bangla and sanskrit will assist her in this ethnography of the temple of Kalighat in Kolkata. This research will be the basis of her dissertation.
Conversations among Hindu practitioners about what goes on in a temple, or what ought to go on in a temple, reveal conceptual worlds that disclose the place that this institution holds in the lives of Hindus today. These conceptual worlds, in turn, also concretely affect temple life, determining to a large extent what does and does not take place in terms of temple ritual, aesthetics, and relationships among human and divine figures. Ms. Moodie's Fulbright-Nehru research is titled "Contesting the Temple: Kalighat in Contemporary Bengali Conceptual Worlds." For her research she will conduct an ethnographic study of the diverse groups of people who make use of Kalighat, the most important temple in the urban metropolis of Kolkata.