Churning the Ocean of Story: Retelling Narratives of Hinduism in Cambodia and India


ACLS Fellowship Program



Named Award

ACLS/NEH International and Area Studies Fellow named award


Scholars narrate the story of the Hindu tradition as a religion of India without attending to its fifteen hundred years of dominant presence in Cambodia, Thailand and Indonesia. On the other hand, historians have written extensively about the 'Indianization' of SE Asia. By highlighting aspects of Khmer religion and culture, I argue that portrayals of Hinduism will have to be reassessed by seeing it as a transnational religion in the first millennium CE. I also argue that the Cambodian people exercised considerable agency in the ways in which they transformed and jettisoned practices from the Hindu civilization. These materials have hitherto been studied by scholars of art and history but not analyzed from the viewpoint of religion, especially by those familiar with Hinduism.