This year as a Martin Marty Center Junior Fellow, I hope to finish writing a significant portion of my dissertation, which examines Jain monastic communities in Early Historic Tamil Nadu, India (c. 500 BCE to 500 CE). Through a critical analysis of the representation of Jains and Jain values in classical Tamil literature, and statistical and spatio-temporal analysis of inscriptions and archaeological remains associated with Jain monastic sites, I argue that the early Jain communities in Tamil Nadu played a significant role in the local economy and politics, particularly through their connections with merchants and political elites.
I look forward to participating in the Marty Seminar and engaging in dialogue with a diverse group of scholars of religion. I greatly value the Martin Marty Center's emphasis on the importance of articulating the broader relevance and value of our research, and look forward to this challenge not only in seminar, but also in teaching outside the University of Chicago and presenting at the spring conference. I am grateful for the opportunity to join the community of Marty Center Fellows, to endeavor together in the struggle to articulate our research, think critically about our methods, and discuss our ideas with the wider public.