Lindsey B. Harlan

Lindsey B. Harlan

Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies

Joined Connecticut College: 1987-2017

A.B., Occidental College
M.T.S., M.A., Ph.D., Harvard University


History of religions


Religion and gender

Heroic traditions

Religion in Trinidad

Lindsey Harlan's main area of interest is religion in South Asia, especially India. She also does research in Trinidad and the United States. She retired from teaching in 2017.

Her courses, Hindu Traditions and Women and Religion in India, treat various aspects of ritual and narrative traditions. Her comparative interests are reflected in her courses Religion and Conflict, Religious Pilgrimage and Buddhist Traditions.

With support from a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, Harlan is currently finishing a book analyzing urban hero worship in Rajasthan, India. She is the author of The Goddesses' Henchmen: Reflections on Gender in Indian Hero Worship (Oxford, 2003) which examines narratives and songs performed by Rajputs, members of a martial caste. Her first book, Religion and Rajput Women (California: 1992), analyzes the narrative traditions of Rajput women. Her interest in gender led to the publication she and Paul Courtright edited, From the Margins of Hindu Marriage: Essays on Gender, Religion, and Culture (Oxford: 1995), an interdisciplinary exploration of points at which the conceptual boundaries of marriage are crossed or transgressed.

Among her recent articles are "On Indian Arrival Day: Lines in the Shifting Sands of Trinidad's Religious Landscape," (in press, Syracuse), "Hindu Marriage," (in press, Oxford) and "Nala and Damayanti's Reversals of Fortune: Gendered Perspectives" (Chronicle, 2011).

Among her ongoing research projects are "Representations of Hindu India in Trinidad," "Kallaji and Akbar" and "American Hero Worship."

Her most recent (2011) presentations include:

  • "Hindu Heroes with Muslim Fast Friends: Trimukhi Bavri Pir Baba, Kapur Shah Baba, and Other Honored Guests at Udaipur's Rajput Hero Celebrations"
  • "Searching for Heroes in India and America: Reflections on What Makes us Great"
  • "Historical Literacy: Understanding India's Religious Diversity"

Harlan has done extensive research in India, Trinidad and the U.S. and has served on the Steering Committee of the Hinduism section of the American Academy of Religion. She has also been a reviewer of proposals for various funding organizations including the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Council of Learned Societies. She was a participant in the Al Musharaka Workshop on Islam and Technology.

Among other professional highlights:

Harlan directed with David Shulman in Jerusalem an international conference, "On Framing: Narrative, Metaphysics, Perception," the first conference resulting from the new Indo-Israeli Cultural Agreement and supported by the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, the Indian Embassy in Israel, and the American Institute of Indian Studies. She was a residential research fellow at the Women's Studies in Religion Program at Harvard, a fellow of the American Institute of Indian Studies and a recipient of a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to conduct research in India. She has also been a fellow of the Dartmouth College Humanities Institute, where she conducted research related to the Institute's topic, "War and Gender." In addition, she has received Kennedy, Copeland, and Fulbright fellowships.

In 2004 Harlan received the College's Nancy Batson Nisbet Rash Faculty Research Award for excellence in academic research. She delivered the 2005 Convocation address, "On Traveling, Teaching and Storytelling: Some Thoughts on Research," found on DigitalCommons@Connecticut College.

Visit the religious studies website.

Majoring in Religious Studies.

Contact Lindsey B. Harlan

Mailing Address

Lindsey B. Harlan
Connecticut College
Box #5507
270 Mohegan Ave.
New London, CT 06320