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Leslie Orr, PhD

Professor, Religions and Cultures

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

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

Leslie Orr joined the Department of Religions & Cultures 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 Archana Venkatesan, Anna Seastrand, and CrispinBranfoot, “The Navatirupatis and Vaishnava temple-networks in South India.” She is the author of the book Donors, Devotees and Daughters of God: TempleWomen 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, 2020).



Field areas

Women, Gender, and Sexuality

Selected publications

“European imaginings of Jainism in colonial Madras: Tales from the Coromandel Coast,” in Co-operation, Contribution and Contestation: The Jaina community, British Rule and Occidental Scholarship from the 18th to early 20th century, ed. Andrea Luithle-Hardenberg, John Cort, and L. C.Orr, Berlin: EB Verlag, 2020. 

“Slavery and Dependency in Southern India,” in The Cambridge World History of Slavery, vol.2 (500-1420 CE), ed. Craig Perry, et. al. Cambridge UniversityPress, 2020.

 “Biographies of South Indian Temple Inscriptions,” SouthAsian Studies 35/2 (2019) 193-205

“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 / Ecole française d'Extrême-Orient, 2016

“Non-Wives and Their Networks in Medieval Tamilnadu,” in Looking Within/ Looking Without: Exploring Households in the Subcontinent 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

"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.

"Cholas, Pandyas, and 'Imperial Temple Culture' in Medieval Tamilnadu." in The Temple in South Asia. Adam Hardy, ed. London: British Academy, 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 Power in South Asia (2019-2020)
Women, Gender and Sexuality in South Asian Religion (2018-2019)
Material Religion: South Asia -- Temples, Mosques & Monasteries (2017-2018)
History of Religions in Tamil Nadu (2017-2018)
Religion and Art in South and Southeast Asia (2015-2016)
Jain and Buddhist Attitudes to Non-violence (2015-16)
Women and Hinduism (2014-15)
"Scripture" in Buddhist and Hindu Traditions (2013-14)

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