Dean Accardi (Ph.D., The University of Texas at Austin) is an historian of gender, religion, and politics in South Asia and the Islamic World. He is interested in secularism and religious conflict as well as the connections between religious and political practices, institutions, and discourses in early modern and modern worlds. His research focuses on the gendered ascetic practices of saints revered by both Hindus and Muslims and their use to establish and articulate religious and political power.
His research and teaching highlight how historical and religious narratives constantly reconstruct and deploy the past to serve particular socio-political agendas. His research and teaching also reexamine notions of mutually exclusive religions, hybridity, and syncretism—aiming to reconceptualize relationships between religions and other social and cultural phenomena with particular attention to race, class, gender, sexuality, and ethnicity.
He is currently working on a book titled "An Ascetic Body Politic: Sainthood and Sovereignty in Kashmir," which examines depictions of asceticism in histories and hagiographies written in late sixteenth-century Kashmir and analyzes how the bodily practices of ascetic saints like Lal Ded and Nund Rishi were used to shape ideas of gender, sainthood, and sovereignty.
His more recent research analyzes appropriations of these ascetic saints by Orientalists, Kashmiri activists, governments, and contemporary political leaders. This research demonstrates how, on the one hand, current religious and political identities are projected into the past and, on the other hand, how ideas about these saints from the past persist and interrupt contemporary religious and political agendas.
He teaches courses on South Asian and Islamic World History and the different relationships between religion and politics across the world. A member of the History Department and the Global Islamic Studies Program, he also teaches classes in Gender, Sexuality, and Intersectionality Studies and is a core faculty member of the Power, Knowledge and Practice and Bodies/Embodiment Integrative Pathways. Each of his courses attends to how power is established, articulated, administered, and contested over time; how race, gender, sexuality, and identities play an integral role in those power structures; and how these categories are differently defined and constituted in different historical and social contexts.
Sample of courses taught:
Border Conflicts in South Asia
Freedom and State Power
Islam in Asia
Secularism in Global Contexts
South Asia in the Postcolonial World
- “Embedded Mystics: Writing Lal Ded and Nund Rishi into the Kashmiri Landscape.” In Kashmir: History, Representation, Politics, edited by Chitralekha Zutshi. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017.
- “Orientalism and the Invention of Kashmiri Religion(s).” International Journal of Hindu Studies. Issue 3, Volume 22, 2018.
- “Making a Hindu Saint.” International Journal of Hindu Studies. Issue 3, Volume 22, 2018.
More information on Accardi’s research and publications can be found on his Academia.edu website.
Visit the history department website and the religious studies department website .
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