Sugata Ray

Assistant Professor Fellow
Sugata Ray Image

In his book project, “Sensorium and Sacrament in a Hindu Pilgrimage Town: Theological Aesthetics, Ecology, and the Islamicate, 1550–1850,” Sugata Ray takes the aesthetics of seeing nature as locus of inquiry to trace a history of environmental aesthetics in early modern and colonial South Asia. Examining architecture, paintings, temple jewelry, and sacramental textiles, alongside theological texts, hymns, and poetry, Ray argues that post sixteenth-century liturgical practices in the Hindu pilgrimage town of Vrindavan, the primary center of Krishna worship in India, triangulated Islamic visualities, eleventh-century theories of performativity, and a place-oriented theology based on venerating nature. He situates artistic practices, theology, and the agentive nature of the environment within a multi-sensorial world of talismans, mineralogy, horticulture, and ritualized vegetarianism. In examining the interstices of the ecological and aesthetic, Ray delineates relational practices shaped by human interaction with the environment in the Little Ice Age (ca. 1550–1850).