Concordia University

Leslie Orr, PhD

Professor, Religions and Cultures

Office: S-FA 303 
FA Annex,
2060 Mackay
Phone: (514) 848-2424 ext. 2078

Leslie Orr joined the Department of Religion at Concordia in 1991. Her research interests include the religious and social history of medieval Tamil Nadu; women in pre-colonial South Asia; devadasis; temple architecture, iconography and epigraphy; the interaction of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Islam; the history of South Indian sectarian movements; and colonial/ missionary Indology. Her current research projects include "South Indian Inscriptions: Media, Messages, and Mobilizations" and, with ArchanaVenkatesan, Anna Seastrand, and Crispin Branfoot, “The Navatirupatis and Vaishnava temple-networks in South India.”She is the author of the book Donors, Devotees and Daughters of God: Temple Women in Medieval Tamilnadu (NY: Oxford University Press, 2000), and co-editor with A. Luithle-Hardenberg and J. Cort of Co-operation, Contribution and Contestation: The Jaina community, British Rule and Occidental Scholarship from the 18th to early 20th century (Berlin: EB Verlag, forthcoming).

Research interests

Religious and social history of medieval Tamil Nadu
Women in pre-colonial South Asia
Temple architecture, iconography and epigraphy
Interaction of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Islam
History of South Indian sectarian movements
Colonial/ missionary Indology
Temple-building, record-keeping, and history-making in Tamil Nadu



Field areas

Women, Gender, and Sexuality

Selected publications

“Chiefly Queens: Local Royal Women as Temple Patrons in the Late Chola Period” in The Archaeology of Bhakti: Royal Bhakti,Local Bhakti, ed. E.Francis & C. Schmid, Pondichéry: Institut Français de Pondichéry / Ecolefrançaise d'Extrême-Orient, 2016

“Non-Wives and Their Networks in Medieval Tamilnadu,” in Looking Within/ Looking Without: Exploring Households in theSubcontinent through Time, ed. Kumkum Roy. New Delhi: Primus Books, 2014 

“The Sacred Landscape of Tamil Saivism: Plotting Place inthe Realm of Devotion,” in  Mapping the Chronology of Bhakti: Milestones, Stepping Stones, and Stumbling Stones, ed. Valérie Gillet. Pondichéry: Institut Français de Pondichéry / Ecole françaised'Extrême-Orient, 2014

"Words for Worship: Tamil and Sanskrit in Medieval Temple Inscriptions," in Bilingual Discourse and Cross-cultural Fertilisation: Sanskrit and Tamil in Mediaeval India, W. Cox and V. Vergiani, ed. Pondichéry: Institut Français de Pondichéry / Ecole française d'Extrême-Orient, 2013.

"The Medieval Murukan: The Place of a God among his Tamil Worshippers," in Hindu Ritual at the Margins: Transformations, Innovations, Reconsiderations, L. Penkower and T. Pintchman, ed. University of South Carolina Press, 2013.

"Orientalists, Missionaries and Jains: The South Indian Story." in The Madras School of Orientalism: Producing Knowledge in Colonial South India. T.R. Trautmann, ed. Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2009.

"Cholas, Pandyas, and 'Imperial Temple Culture' in Medieval Tamilnadu." in The Temple in South Asia. Adam Hardy, ed. London: British Academy, 2007.

"People of the Festival." Co-authored with Richard H. Davis, in Melanges tantriques a la memoire d'Helene Brunner/Tantric Studies in Memory of Helene Brunner. D. Goodall and A. Padoux, eds. Pondicherry: Ecole francaise d'extreme-orient/Institut francais de Pondichery, 2007.

"Domesticity and Difference/Women and Men: Religious Life in Medieval Tamilnadu." in Women's Lives, Women's Rituals in the Hindu Tradition. Tracy Pintchman, ed. NY: Oxford University Press, 2007.

"Identity and Divinity: Boundary-Crossing Goddesses in Medieval Tamilnadu." in the Journal of the American Academy of Religion 73:1 (2005), 9-43.

Recent graduate seminars and reading courses

Religion and Art in South and Southeast Asia (2015-2016)
Jain and Buddhist Attitudes to Non-violence (2015-16)
"Scripture" in Buddhist and Hindu Traditions (2013-14)
Women and Hinduism (2012-13 and 2014-15)
Cosmologies of India: Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism (2010-11)
Social History of Indian Religions (2009-10)

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