Deonnie Moodie

Deonnie Moodie joined OU in the fall of 2014, after earning her Ph.D. in Religious Studies at Harvard University.  Prior to that, she earned an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School and a B.A. from Hope College, where she majored in International Studies.

Dr. Moodie specializes in South Asian religions, particularly Hinduism.  She has spent two years living and researching in the region of Bengal, in both the Indian state of West Bengal and the nation of Bangladesh.  She is especially interested in contemporary temple Hinduism in urban South Asia and the ways in which people of various class backgrounds negotiate these sites as spaces of devotion, memory, monumentality, labor, and leisure.

Prof. Moodie’s forthcoming book focuses on Kālīghāṭ Temple, a Hindu temple dedicated to the goddess Kālī in Kolkata, India.  From the colonial period to the present, among foreigners and locals, in the vernacular Bengali language and in English, this site has been envisioned as a site of great spiritual power, an ancient relic, a hotbed of priestly corruption, and a physically unclean space site in need of major cleansing and renovation.  Employing historical, legal, and ethnographic sources, Prof. Moodie analyzes the various ways in which individuals constitute their ideas of what the Hindu temple is, and ought to be.  She pays particular attention to transnational exchanges in these discursive constructions of the temple – including exchanges between colonialists and Hindus beginning in the eighteenth century (when “Kolkata” was “Calcutta”), and now, between various groups of Hindus living in India and abroad.  Through this work, Prof. Moodie hopes to contribute to scholarly understandings of what a religious site is, how and why it is differently conceptualized, and the mechanisms by which those conceptualizations are circulated.  In this same vein, Prof. Moodie has a forthcoming article with the International Journal of Hindu Studies, "Kālīghāṭ and the Fashioning of Middle Class Modernities." Her work was recently featured on Marginalia, an L. A. Review of Books podcast:  Directions In the Study of Religion:  Deonnie Moodie on Temples, Class, and Hindu Identity.

At OU, Prof. Moodie teaches Introduction to Religious Studies, Introduction to Hinduism, Approaches to the Study of Religion, and Religion and Nationalism in India.