Caleb Simmons, Assoc. Prof. of Religion, UA
Monday, April 26, 2021,
an ASA Zoom Webinar*
When pop sensation Ariana Grande released her #1 hit single “God is a Woman” in 2018, for many of us in goddess studies this song brought back into focus a question that had begun circulating in the 70s and 80s: “What if God was a woman?” Media like Merlin Stone’s When God Was a Woman (1976), Riane Eisler’s The Chalice and the Blade (1987), the documentary film Goddess Remembered (1989), and others hypothesized about what life would look like if our society had believed God was a woman.
This lecture will provide a brief overview of goddess traditions in India, perhaps the oldest continuous goddess-oriented religion in the world. We will be introduced to several major goddesses and learn about how the people worship them. Using this information, Professor Simmons will trace both the historical and contemporary place of women in these traditions, as well as the ways that imagery of the divine feminine has been mobilized for social change.
Dr. Caleb Simmons (PhD in Religion, University of Florida, 2014) is Associate Professor of Religion in the College of Humanities at UA, specializing in religion in South Asia, especially Hinduism. His research spans from religion and state-formation in medieval and colonial India to contemporary transnational aspects of Hinduism.
His first book, Devotional Sovereignty: Kingship and Religion in India was published in 2020. He is currently working on a second monograph, Singing the Goddess into Place: Folksongs, Myth, and Situated Knowledge in Mysore, India. His publications and continuing research interests encompass a broad range of topics, including ecological issues and sacred geography in India; South Asian diaspora communities; and material and popular cultures that arise as a result of globalization—especially South Asian religions as portrayed in comic books and graphic novels. He also currently serves as the Book Review editor for the academic journal, Religion.
Dr. Simmons frequently leads students in a Study Abroad program called Arizona in India; he will be donating his honorarium to this fund to help defray students’ travel expenses and welcomes other donations.
The program welcomes other donations:
Written by Charmaine Wellington, Academy Village Volunteer
*For access to the Zoom webinar, please write email@example.com