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Current Postgraduate Research Students

Bihani Sarkar supervises 1 postgraduate research students. If these students have produced research profiles, these are listed below:

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Dr Bihani Sarkar

Lecturer in Comparative Non-Western Thought

Bihani Sarkar

County South

LA1 4YL

Lancaster

Office Hours:

Mondays 11am to 1pm

Tuesdays 11am to 1pm

PhD supervision

I am co-supervising one student working on Nyāya (Indian Logic). I am open to supervising students working on goddess traditions in South and South East Asia, early South Asian poetry and drama, especially classical Sanskrit poetry and aesthetics, literary cultures, politics, and religious history.

Profile

I am a comparative and interdisciplinary historian of early Indian politics, religions and literature (poetry and drama) between the 2nd and the 15th centuries CE. I work mainly with classical Sanskrit and some Middle Indic (Prakrit) sources. I also draw generously from Bengali, my mother tongue.  I have taught and have research interests across Indian philosophy and religions, including Hinduism, Buddhism, and South Asian Islam. My current research and teaching interests include comparative literary and cultural theory; gender, transgression and power; the decolonisation of intellectual history; sacred narrative and cultural memory; madness, knowledge and kingship; Beauty; poetry; and North Indian classical music. 

 My publications span  Śākta epigraphy, the history of the Śākta traditions, their metaphysics, their relationship to power, and their role in the growth of the state and kingship. I have also published on histories of classical Indian literary genres,  aesthetics, and emotions, focusing on their implications for uncontested ideas and assumptions about literature and culture. 

My first book Heroic Shāktism: the cult of Durgā in ancient Indian kingship (OUP 2017) delved into the history of the cult of the Great Goddess just after the end of the Gupta empire, and its interaction with local cults and the constitution of early kingdoms, using scriptural, liturgical, mythological, literary and epigraphical sources (see here: https://global.oup.com/academic/product/heroic-shktism-9780197266106?cc=gb&lang=en&).

 My second book Classical Sanskrit Tragedy published in 2021 (see here: https://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/classical-sanskrit-tragedy-9781788311113/) is a response to ideas of tragedy. Through a close literary analysis of the tragic middle in five of the celebrated poet Kālidāsa’s works, the book demonstrates the importance of tragic identity for classical Indian poetry and drama in the early centuries of the common era. These depictions from the Indian literary sphere, by their particular function and interest in the phenomenology of grief, challenge and reshape in a wholly new way our received understanding of tragedy.

I am working on my third book which speaks out against a reading of classical Sanskrit literature that restricts and devalues the subjectivity of some of its most beloved female characters, by re-interpreting several heroines from across classical Sanskrit poetry as bold and enterprising models of courage. Drawing in its theoretical arguments on writers from Black and Islamic feminism, the book argues for an alternative reading of subjectivity.  

 

Career Details

Before joining Lancaster I was Departmental Lecturer in Sanskrit at the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Oxford responsible for the duties of the Boden Professor of Sanskrit. Before that I taught Indian Religions at the University of Leeds and the University of Winchester. Between 2014 and 2017 I was a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow at the Oriental Institute University of Oxford, and between 2012 and 2014 I was Nachwuchsinitiave Postdoctoral Fellow in the University of Hamburg, Germany.

I hold a First Class BA (Hons) degree in English Language and Literature from St Hilda’s College, University of Oxford. I then studed Sanskrit through an MPhil in Classical Indian Religions at the University of Oxford and continued with a doctorate, both under the supervision of Alexis Sanderson, former Spalding Professor of Eastern Religions and Ethics, All Souls College.  

Profile

I am a comparative and interdisciplinary historian of early Indian politics, religions and literature (poetry and drama) between the 2nd and the 15th centuries CE. I work mainly with classical Sanskrit and some Middle Indic (Prakrit) sources. I also draw generously from Bengali, my mother tongue.  I have taught and have research interests across Indian philosophy and religions, including Hinduism, Buddhism, and South Asian Islam. My current research interests include comparative literary and cultural theory; gender, transgression and power; the decolonisation of intellectual history; sacred narrative and cultural memory; madness, knowledge and kingship; Beauty; poetry; and North Indian classical music. 

 

My publications span  Śākta epigraphy, the history of the Śākta traditions, their metaphysics, their relationship to power, and their role in the growth of the state and kingship. I have also published on histories of classical Indian literary genres,  aesthetics, and emotions, focusing on their implications for our uncontested ideas and assumptions about literature and culture. 

My first book Heroic Shāktism: the cult of Durgā in ancient Indian kingship (OUP 2017) delved into the history of the cult of the Great Goddess just after the end of the Gupta empire, and its interaction with local cults and the constitution of early kingdoms, using scriptural, liturgical, mythological, literary and epigraphical sources (see here: https://global.oup.com/academic/product/heroic-shktism-9780197266106?cc=gb&lang=en&).

 My second book Classical Sanskrit Tragedy published in 2021 (see here: https://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/classical-sanskrit-tragedy-9781788311113/) is a response to ideas of tragedy. Through a close literary analysis of the tragic middle in five of the celebrated poet Kālidāsa’s works, the book demonstrates the importance of tragic identity for classical Indian poetry and drama in the early centuries of the common era. These depictions from the Indian literary sphere, by their particular function and interest in the phenomenology of grief, challenge and reshape in a wholly new way our received understanding of tragedy.

 

 

Current Teaching

 

PPR344: The Politics of Cultural Diversity

PHIL100 (Block on Indian Metaphysics)

  • Forthcoming

    Śākta Epigraphy

    Sarkar, B., 2023, (Accepted/In press) Brill Encyclopaedia of Hinduism Vol VII. Leiden: Brill Academic Publishers, Vol. VII.

    Research output: Contribution in Book/Report/Proceedings - With ISBN/ISSNChapter

  • Published

    Complicated legacy: In Max Müller's attitude to India lay an ambivalence

    Sarkar, B., 11/08/2022, The Telegraph Kolkata.

    Research output: Other contribution

  • Published

    Foreword

    Sarkar, B., 21/12/2021, Ramayana: The Great Epic of Ancient India Valmiki, translated by Ralph T.H.Griffith, abridged by F.Tara Hathaway. Hathaway, F. T. (ed.). London: Flame Tree Publishing, 432 p.

    Research output: Contribution in Book/Report/Proceedings - With ISBN/ISSNChapter

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