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Department of Religious Studies

College of Arts & Sciences

Antoinette E. DeNapoli
Associate Professor

Fall 2016 Office Hours

Monday/Wednesday 10:30-11:30; Wednesday 2:00-3:00; and by appointment

UW Recognition

College of Arts & Sciences' Extraordinary Merit in Research award for 2016


B.A. University of South Florida 1996; M.A. Florida State University 2000; Ph.D. Emory University 2009, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies 2010.

Dr. DeNapoli is an Assistant Professor of Religious Studies. She received her Ph.D. from the West and South Asian Religions Program in the Graduate Division of Religion at Emory University. Dr. DeNapoli’s research, teaching, and writing focus on the religions and cultures of South Asia, and especially on Hindu traditions of devotion and piety; asceticism and mysticism; ritual and performance; and gender. Dr. DeNapoli has published her work in a number of leading academic journals and edited volumes in her subfield of religion and South Asian studies. Her first book, Real Sadhus Sing to God: Gender, Asceticism, and Vernacular Religion in Rajasthan, was published by Oxford University Press (2014); it is based on fourteen years of field work with Hindu ascetics in North India. Currently, Dr. DeNapoli is working on her second book, which explores the idea of “experimental Hinduism” as expressed through the lives and practices of Hindu ascetics in contemporary India. Dr. DeNapoli is interested in the ways that ascetics draw on authoritative religious concepts, views, and practices to understand and experience new and/or emerging transnational shifts, processes, and institutions, such as technology, human and women’s rights, sustainability, and development. She is especially concerned with how the dominant definitional parameters for what Hinduism means and how it is lived in everyday contexts change and expand in response to ascetics’ experimenting with the boundaries of their traditions. Dr. DeNapoli’s professional interests include the historical and comparative study of religion, religious experience, the anthropology of gender and sexuality, performance and narrative studies, and globalization studies.



DeNapoli, Antoinette, Real Sadhus Sing to God: Gender, Asceticism, and Vernacular Religion in Rajasthan, Oxford University Press, release date, April 2014.

Refereed journal articles, book chapters, and book reviews:

DeNapoli, Antoinette, “Our Own Two Hands Create our Destiny: Narrative Patterns and Strategies in Male Sadhus’ Personal Stories,” Contributions to Indian Sociology, Volume 48:3, October 2014.

DeNapoli, Antoinette, “The Freedom of Wandering, the Protection of Settling in Place: Gendered Symbolizations of Space in the Practices of Hindu Renouncers in Rajasthan,” In The Changing World Religion Map, edited by Stan Brunn, Springer, Fall 2014.

DeNapoli, Antoinette, “Singing Ramayan and Performing Literacy: Male Hindu Renouncers’ Idea and Performance of Vernacular Texts in Rajasthan,” Asian Literature and Translation Journal 2/1 (2014): 1-23.

DeNapoli, Antoinette, “Real Sadhus Sing to God’: The Religious Capital of Devotion and Domesticity in the Leadership of Female Renouncers in Rajasthan,” Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion 29/1: 117-131.

DeNapoli, Antoinette, “Vernacular Hinduism in Rajasthan,” in Introducing Hinduism, edited by P. Pratap Kumar, Equinox Publishing Ltd., July 30, 2013.

DeNapoli, Antoinette, Review Article of Unearthing Gender: Folksongs of North India, by Smita Tewari Jassal, Anthropos A.108/2 (2013): 604-608.

DeNapoli, Antoinette, Review of Interpreting Devotion, by Karen Pechilis, Asian Ethnology, 72/1 (2013): 154-158.
DeNapoli, Antoinette, “Performing a Rhetoric of Renunciation: An Exploration of Hindu Female Renouncers’ Vernacular Practices in North India,” Memphis Theological Seminary Journal for its special issue on Rhetoric and Religion, February 2012.

DeNapoli, Antoinette, “Performing Materiality through Song: Hindu Female Renouncers’ Embodying Practices in Rajasthan,” Nidan: Journal for the Study of Hinduism for its special issue on Religion and Materiality, December 2011.

DeNapoli, Antoinette, Review of Contradictory Lives: Baul Women in India and Bangladesh, by Lisa I. Knight, Journal of Asian Studies, 71 (2): 569-571.

DeNapoli, Antoinette, 2010, “‘Crossing over the Ocean of Existence’: Performing ‘Mysticism’ and Exerting Agency by Female Sadhus of Rajasthan,” The Journal of Hindu Studies, volume 3, no. 3, pp. 298-336.

DeNapoli, Antoinette, 2010, “Write the Text Letter-by-Letter in the Heart: Non-literacy, Religious Authority, and Female Sadhus’ Performance of Asceticism through Sacred Texts, Postscripts: The Journal of Sacred Texts and Contemporary Worlds, Volume 4, no. 3, pp. 3-40.

DeNapoli, Antoinette, 2009, “By the Sweetness of the Tongue: Duty, Destiny, and Devotion in the Oral Life Narratives of Female Ascetics in Rajasthan,” Asian Ethnology,
Volume 68, no. 1, pp. 81-108.

DeNapoli, Antoinette, 2009, “Beyond Brahmanical Asceticism: Recent and Emerging Models of Female Hindu Asceticisms in South Asia,” Religion Compass 3, pp. 1-19.


DeNapoli, Antoinette, “In Search of the Sadhu’s Stone: Metals, Minerals, and Gems in the Practices of Hindu Renouncers in Rajasthan,” in Souless Matter, Seats of Energy: Metals, Minerals, and Gems in South Asian Religions, edited by Thomas Dahnhardt and Fabrizio Ferrari (Springer, 2015).

DeNapoli, Antoinette, “Speaking Shadows to Light: Vernacular Narrative as Vehicle for Rajasthani Female Sadhus’ Voicing Vulnerability and Violence,” in Women and Asian Religions (Women and Religions in the World Series), edited by Zayn Kassam, Praeger, (forthcoming Spring 2015).

DeNapoli, Antoinette, “Our Own Two Hands Create our Destiny: Narrative Patterns and Strategies in Male Sadhus’ Personal Stories,” submitted to Contributions to Indian Sociology (accepted and will be published in October 2014).

DeNapoli, Antoinette, “Gender/Renunciation in Hinduism.” Oxford Annotated Bibliographies Online, Spring 2015.

DeNapoli, Antoinette, “‘Nobody can be like Mira!’: How Alternative is Mira Bai’s Model of Alternative Femininity? The Challenge of Contemporary Female Hindu Ascetics in Rajasthan,” in Mira Bai, edited by Nancy M. Martin, Oxford University.
DeNapoli, Antoinette, “God, We are your Beggars: The Songs of Hindu Sadhus in Rajasthan,” in Poetry for Peace, edited by Michael Lidgley and Devanshe Chauhan, Amnesty International Press, Spring 2015.

Courses Taught

Religious Landscapes of Asia
History of Hinduism
History of Buddhism
Tibetan Buddhism
South Asian Islam
Mysticism, Yoga, and Enlightenment in the East
Gods, Avatars, Heroes, and Mystics: The Divine Personality in Eastern Religions
Religion and the Politics of Gender in Asia
Goddess Traditions of South Asia
Asceticism East and West
Religion and Globalization in India (travel abroad course)
Theory and Method in the Study of Religion

Antoinette DeNapoli

Dr. DeNapoli in India

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Department of Religious Studies

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Office Associate:

Clayleen Rivord

Ross Hall, Room 122

Department 3392

1000 E. University Ave

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Phone: 307-766-3204

Fax: 307-766-2096


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