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Learn more about Prof. Rinehart, Richard H. Jr. '60 and Joan K. Sell Chair in the Humanities
What is the focus of your research?
My research focuses on the religious literature of the Punjab region of South Asia, an area that is currently divided between India and Pakistan. I am especially interested in interactions and shared traditions among Sikhs, Hindus, and Muslims. I’ve written a lot about a complex and fascinating text called the Dasam Granth, attributed to the 10th guru of Sikhism, Guru Gobind Singh. I’ve recently published articles about gender issues in this text. I also recently published an article about atheists and agnostics in the Punjab. My current research project explores the concept of the avatar. Most people might think of an avatar as something they create on their phone, but it’s a concept that has its origins in Hinduism—the idea that a deity may create an avatar or incarnation to solve some problem on earth.
What will you be teaching in the fall?
Religious Studies 101: Religions in World Cultures and Asian Studies 101: Introduction to Asian Studies. Other courses I teach include Hinduism; Buddhism; Sex, Gender, and Religion; and an FYS called “Atheists, Nones, and the Spiritual But Not Religious.”
What attracted you to Lafayette, and what have you enjoyed and found most fulfilling during your time here?
The most fulfilling thing to me at Lafayette is watching students grow intellectually. Whatever someone’s religious background is, or even if they have no religious background at all, they can find something of interest in learning about the many ways humans have tried to make sense of the world and our place in it—and the ways religions sometimes bring out the best in people, but unfortunately also can play a central role in conflict. It’s been exciting to watch the Religious Studies Department and especially the Asian studies program grow during my time at Lafayette.
What does receiving an endowed chair mean to you?
I’m very grateful to the Sell family for endowing this chair, and it’s an honor to receive it.
How does this endowed position further your teaching and/or research?
The research funds from the Sell Chair will help support the travel for my research. This summer, I’ll be spending two weeks in Croatia at a workshop for scholars from around the world who use the language Brajbhasha in their research. The funds will also support my greatest weakness—books!