Assistant Professor of Religious Studies Anthony Cerulli is the recipient of a 2015 Guggenheim Fellowship, earning the sole award in the area of South Asian Studies this year.
Since its establishment in 1925, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation has granted more than $325 million in Fellowships to almost 18,000 individuals, among whom are scores of Nobel laureates and poets laureate, as well as winners of the Pulitzer Prize, Fields Medal, and other important, internationally recognized honors.
“I am absolutely thrilled about receiving a Guggenheim Fellowship. It’s a tremendous honor,” says Cerulli. “The application process was extremely rigorous, entailing multiple stages of review, and it’s very gratifying to know that my past research portfolio and current research project were evaluated so highly by the leading scholars in my fields of study.”
Appointed on the basis of prior achievement and exceptional promise, the 175 scholars, artists, and scientists were chosen from this year’s group of more than 3,100 applicants. In its 91st competition for the United States and Canada, the Guggenheim Foundation awarded Fellowships to a diverse group of candidates, continuing the mission Senator and Mrs. Simon Guggenheim set: to “promote the advancement and diffusion of knowledge and understanding and the appreciation of beauty, by aiding without distinction on account of race, color or creed, scholars, scientists and artists of either sex in the prosecution of their labors.”
The great variety of backgrounds, fields of study, and accomplishments of Guggenheim Fellows is one of the distinguishing characteristics of the Fellowship program. In all, 51 disciplines, 63 different academic institutions, 23 states and the District of Columbia, and two Canadian provinces are represented by this year’s Fellows, who range in age from 29 to 83. Sixty-nine Fellows have no academic affiliation or hold adjunct or part-time positions at universities.
Edward Hirsch, president of the Foundation, is enthusiastic about the Fellows in the class of 2015: “These artists and writers, scholars and scientists, represent the best of the best. Since 1925, the Guggenheim Foundation has always bet everything on the individual, and we’re thrilled to continue the tradition with this wonderfully talented and diverse group. It’s an honor to be able to support these individuals to do the work they were meant to do.”
The project for which Cerulli has been named a Fellow — “Sanskrit Medical Classics in Crisis: Language Politics and the Reinvention of a Medical Tradition in India” — involves “a combination of archival and ethnographic research on one of India’s indigenous medical systems, Ayurveda,” Cerulli says.
“Eventually becoming my second book, this project probes and explains the impact of European colonial medicine on the transmission of knowledge in Ayurveda’s two institutions of learning: the Ayurvedic College and the gurukula (a Sanskrit word meaning “family of the teacher”). The support afforded by the Guggenheim Fellowship will enable me to carry out much of the research that I need to do in order to write the book. The project will take me to archives on three continents (in the United States, Europe, and India), and I’ll be able to commit myself to sustained stretches of fieldwork in the south Indian states of Kerala, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu,” he adds.
Cerulli, who joined the faculty in 2008, earned his B.A. from Loyola University Chicago, M.A. from Yale University, and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. He has earned previous fellowships and grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, European Institutes for Advanced Studies, the American Council of Learned Societies, and Fulbright, among other organizations.
His book, “Somatic Lessons: Narrating Parenthood and Illness in Indian Medical Literature,” was published in 2012 by the State University of New York Press. He co-edited “Medical Texts and Manuscripts in Indian Cultural History,” published in 2013, and has published widely in journals, anthologies, and reference volumes. His courses concern, among other subjects, Buddhism and Hinduism, postcolonialism and the anthropology of South Asian religions, and the history of medicine in India.
Cerulli has previously taught at Loyola University Chicago, Transylvania University, and École de hautes etudes en sciences sociales in Paris, and has twice been a scholar-in-residence at the Rochester Zen Center. For the past six years, he has been the managing editor of the journal, India Review (published by Routledge USA). He has given dozens of conference presentations and invited lectures nationally and internationally, and he is the co-founder and co-organizer of the South Asia Speaker Series on the HWS campus.