Joyce Burkhalter Flueckiger
Director, Graduate Division of Religion
Office: S211 Callaway Memorial Center
Additional Contact Information
Department of Religion, Emory University
537 Kilgo Cir., Callaway S214
Atlanta, GA 30322
Joyce Burkhalter Flueckiger, Professor. Joyce Flueckiger grew up in India until the age of eighteen, as the daughter of Mennonite 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 with both Hindu and Muslim traditions. While the content and geographic/cultural locations of Flueckiger's three major research projects to date are very different (both central and south India), they share theoretical interests in indigenous categories and in everyday, vernacular religion. One of the primary purposes 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. Each book has analyzed a repertoire of performance and ritual traditions, placing them in relationship to each other as contexts that affect how they are received by their performers and audiences.
Flueckiger received a John Simon Guggenheim and Summer National Endowment for the Humanities fellowships for 2014-2015 to support her new project titled Material Acts: The Agency of Materiality in India. The goal of the project is to articulate 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. For earlier research, she has received support from the American Institute of Indian Studies and Fulbright.
Flueckiger's latest book is the introductory textbook, Everyday Hinduism, published in 2015 by Wiley.
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. These traditions intersect most palpably during Gangamma's annual hot-season festival, during which time--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 (Indiana University Press: 2006) analyzes religious and gender identities and boundaries in a healing practice of female Muslim folk healers in the South Indian city of Hyderabad. Flueckiger is also the author of Gender and Genre in the Folklore of Middle India (Cornell: 1996), has published numerous articles on South Asian folklore, 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 received Emory's highest award for teaching, the Emory Williams Teaching Award, in 2003.
When the World Becomes Female
In Amma's Healing Room
Gender and Genre in the Folklore of Middle India
Oral Epics in India
Boundaries of the Text: Epic Performances in South and Southeast Asia