Dr Ophira Gamliel
- Lecturer in South Asian Religions (Theology & Religious Studies)
My main areas of research are in South Asian languages, cultures, and religions, past and present. I am especially interested in the history of connections and exchanges between religions and regions, communities and generations, peoples and institutions. Specifically, my area of expertise is Kerala history and culture, and Malayalam language and literature.
I studied and taught Sanskrit and Malayalam in Jerusalem and in Germany (Bochum and Tübingen). I am especially interested in event structures and semantic bleaching in various languages, including Hebrew, my native language.
I work on performance and ritual studies, especially in the context of shared festivals, and on the documentation and preservation of tangible and intangible cultural heritage.
My research on Kerala’s culture and society intersects with environmental humanities and climate change adaptation and transformation.
Digitisation project (major): Digitising Arabic manuscripts in Mattool, North Kerala (EAP1390), under the auspices of the Endangered Archives Programme at the British Library, (August 2021 – July 2022, ₤23,148) http://www.eap.bl.uk/project/EAP1390
Digitisation project (pilot): Locating and Sampling Arabic and Arabic-Malayalam Manuscripts in Kerala, South India (EAP1228), under the auspices of the Endangered Archives Programme at the British Library, (November – December 2019, ₤11,125) https://eap.bl.uk/project/EAP1228
Workshop: Toward Equitable Resilience: Social-Ecological Systems in the Changing Climate of the Indian Ocean Littoral – in collaboration with the School of Engineering and under the auspices of the Global Challenges Research Fund and the Scottish Funding Council (October 2019, ₤25,297)
Kerala State Higher Education Council Grant Erudite Scholar Lecture Series (Travel Grant, 2018)
Workshop: Arabic and Islam on the Move: Cross-Cultural Encounters between Arabia and Malabar 900s-1500s (May 2017, €10,000), https://ceres.rub.de/de/veranstaltungen/arabic-and-islam-move-cross-cultural-encounters/
Aranmula Award of the Third International Kerala History Conference ($200, 2015)
Käte Hamburger Kolleg project “Sensory Devotion and Inter-religious Encounters: Shared Festivals in Kerala (South India)” (€60,000, 2015)
Rothschild Fellowship for Post-Doctoral Studies Malayalam linguistics with Venugopala Panicker (2010)
Ben-Zvi Institute Grant: Documentation of Jewish Malayalam, in collaboration with Jarmo Forsström (2008-2009)
Jewish Languages Department Morag Award, Hebrew University (2008)
Rotenstreich Fellowship Grant, Hebrew University (2004-2008)
Sternberg Prize for Interfaith Understanding, Hebrew University (2000)
I am happy to supervise PGR projects on the religions, cultures, history, and literature of South Asia, past and present.
I welcome projects on a wide range of topics from material culture and Indian Ocean history to languages and literatures, especially in the source languages Sanskrit, Malayalam, Hebrew, and Arabic. Among my areas of expertise are also environmental humanities, language documentation and ethnography, ritual theory, and the comparative study of mysticism.
Current projects under my supervision are:
Percy Arfeen, Transcending Boundaries: Material Culture of Sacred Spaces in Premodern and Early Modern Kerala, South India, co-supervised with Jessie Pons at the Center for Religious Studies (CERES), Ruhr University Bochum, under the auspices of DAAD: German Academic Exchange Service.
Haritha Venu, Progressive Politics and Transformation in a Context of Climate Crisis: Kerala's Subaltern Communities as a Case Study, co-supervised with Giovanni Picker and David Featherstone at the University of Glasgow, College of Arts, under the auspices of the Lord Kelvin Adam Smith Fellowship.
Amina Khan, Resurrecting the Heroines of South Asian Sufi Folklore as Muslim Feminists, co-supervised with Lloyd Ridgeon and Saeko Yazaki, part time project, Theology and Religious Studies, School of Critical Studies, University of Glasgow.
Anaïs Delcol, Peregrination as Conquest or Liberation of Oneself in Female Travel Writers' Works, co-supervised with Olivier Salazar-Ferrer and Ramona Fotiade, School of Modern Languages and Cultures, University of Glasgow.
I co-teach the Level 1 course Religions in Asia, focusing on Buddhism.
I convene the Level 2 course Mysticism and Spirituality, with a focus on comparative mysticism, co-taught with experts on Judaism, Islam, Christianity, and Hinduism.
I convene two Honors courses Religion and Trade in Premodern Asia, focusing on the Indian Ocean and the Malabar Coast and South Asian Epic Traditions, focusing on the Ramayana and Mahabharata in translations, performance, and the arts.
I am the convener of a Malayalam summer school (here), and happy to guide students interested in pursuing the self-study of Sanskrit
I am a visiting fellow at the University of Münster (October – December 2021, here)
I participate in three COP26 fringe events (here), Global Environmental History and Climate Change with Julia McClure, Zozan Pehlivan, Steven Serels, John Wing, and Amanda Power (October 27, here), Chaos, Floods, and Resilience with Ariel Zinder and Heather Walton (November 4), and Jungle Nama: Communicating Traditions of Spiritual Resilience in the Climate Emergency, with Amitav Ghosh, Ali Sethi and Salman Toor (November 8)
I co-convene the research cluster seminar series Religion, Challenge, and Change (here), which hosted a pandemic-related lecture series in 2021:
Yehoshua Granat (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem), Perception of Epidemics in Hebrew Poetry: From Biblical Antiquity to Early Modernity (February 2021)
Riyanti Djalante (ASEAN, Jakarta), Rajan Gurukkal (Kerala State Higher Education Council), and Yael Artzy-Randrup (University of Amsterdam), COVID-19, Social Dynamics and Religious Response: COVID-19, Floods and Earthquakes in Indonesia, lecture and roundtable discussion (March 2021)
Samuel Cohn (University of Glasgow), The Post-Black-Death Century: Economic Equality and Its Consequences (May 2021)
Among the guest lecturers I hosted at the TRS research seminar series are:
Menashe Anzi (Be’er Sheva), From Yemen to India and Back: Jewish Immigration and Knowledge Flows (February 2019)
Mehrdad Shokoohy (London), Mughal and Muslim Architecture in India (May 2019)
Ines Weinrich (Münster), Sounding the Birth of the Prophet Muhammad: Arabic Maulid Texts as Performative Devotion (November 2019)
Azeez Tharuvana (Calicut), Muslim Ramayanas (March 2020)
Deepra Dandekar (Berlin), Baba Padmanji and Vernacular Christianity in Nineteenth Century Maharashtra (March 2020)