Ph.D. Candidate, Religion
2018-2019 Rothman Doctoral Fellowship
In her dissertation, The Goddess and Dancing Śiva in the Multiple Ritual Worlds of Chidambaram Shaw takes a Goddess–centric approach to the stories and life of Chidambaram, which is a temple town famous for being home to Dancing Śiva. This approach allows her to explore a myriad of narrative layers, which are often overlooked when a study focuses upon a male deity and the elite males who worship him. Her overarching research questions ask: how does turning to Goddess stories, to the Goddess within the God stories, to marginalized voices along with elite ones, and to the practices of regular people enrich the historical archive? How does this grow our understanding of Hindu temples and Hindu Traditions?
With the support of the Tedder Family Fellowship, Shaw observed rituals and festivals she was unable to see in previous visits, interviewing people, and starting to read an important primary text called the Koyil Puranam (the Ancient Tale of the Temple). Lastly, it provided Shaw with the means to make weekly trips to The French Institute of Pondicherry where she met with a Tamil literature scholar for independent directed reading sessions of the Koyil Puranam.