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Joyce Burkhalter FlueckigerProfessor Emerita

Joyce Flueckiger grew up in India until the age of eighteen, as the daughter of missionaries. She returned to the U.S. to attend Goshen College, where she received her B.A. in English. She earned her Ph.D. in South Asian Language and Literature from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She has carried out extensive fieldwork in India, working in Chhattisgarh, Hyderabad, Tirupati, and Mussoorie. Flueckiger's research projects share theoretical interests in indigenous categories and in everyday, vernacular religion. One goal of Flueckiger's research is to bring unwritten traditions into the mainstream of the study and teaching of religion, with a particular emphasis on their gendered performance and experience.

Flueckiger received an American Institute of Indian Studies Senior Fellowship to support research for her current book project, Migration and Belonging on Mullingar Hill: Oral Histories of a Himalayan Hill Station. She received a John Simon Guggenheim and Summer National Endowment for the Humanities fellowships to support her newest book, Material Acts in Everyday Hindu Worlds (2020).  The book articulates an indigenous Indian theory of the agency of materiality through performative and ethnographic analyses of a range of different kinds of material that are not usually included in the study of religion. In 2015, she published Everyday Hinduism, an introductory textbook.

Flueckiger's book When the World Becomes Female: Possibilities of a South Indian Goddess (2013) analyzes festival, ritual, and narrative traditions of the South Indian goddess Gangamma in which gender at both cosmological and human levels is performed and debated. During Gangamma’s annual hot-season festival, for one week, ultimate reality is imagined and experienced as female. The ritual and narrative imaginative worlds of Gangamma and personal narratives of those who serve her introduce possibilities of gender that are characteristic of South Indian artisan/trader castes, possibilities that are being threatened both by processes of brahminization of some Gangamma temples and the growth of middle-class aesthetics and gender and sexual mores.

In Amma's Healing Room: Gender & Vernacular Islam in South India (2006) analyzes religious and gender identities in a healing practice of female Muslim folk healers in the city of Hyderabad. Flueckiger is also the author of Gender and Genre in the Folklore of Middle India (1996) and is co-editor of and contributor to Oral Epics in India (1989) and Boundaries of the Text: Epic Performances in South and Southeast Asia (1991).

Flueckiger's seminars and courses include: Performance and Ethnography in West and South Asia; Life History Narratives and Methods; Women, Religion and Ethnography; Dance and Embodied Knowledge in the Indian Context; Modern Hinduism; and Religion, Health and Healing. She has received Emory's highest award for teaching, the Williams Teaching Award (2003); the Woolford B. Baker Service Award for outstanding service to the Michael C. Carlos Museum at Emory (2016); and Emory’s George Cuttino Mentoring Award (2020) and the Emory Women of Excellence Award for Mentorship (2020).