Anna L Seastrand
My research has focused on early modern southeastern India, with a broad interest in the embodied experience of sacred space. My publications have been motivated by questions about the relationship between text, narrative and image; the nature of portraiture; the depiction and functions of landscape. My first book, Materiality and Imagination in Early Modern Murals, argues that temple mural paintings from southeastern India, 1500-1800, reflect and instantiate a turn to mimetic representation as a key feature of cultural expression in devotional narrative, landscape, and portraiture. My second book, tentatively titled Trees and the Ecologies of Art in South India, reconceives the importance of trees in South Asian art and religious practice in light of their changing social, economic, artistic, religious, and environmental ecologies.
I am a Visiting Scholar at the Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society at the University of Chicago, where I am part of a multidisciplinary team focused on the “interwoven” sonic and visual histories of the Indian Ocean world. This project grows out of a multi-year collaboration with scholars, collectors, and institutions across South Asia interested in the digitization of sonic and visual archives. I am also part of a research team collaborating on publication of a set of interconnected temples in southeastern India.
My research has been supported by fellowships in the Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts and the University of Chicago; the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts at the National Gallery (CASVA); the American Academy of Religion; and the American Institute of Indian Studies.