Dean Accardi is an historian of gender and religion in South Asia and the Islamic World. He is interested in the connections between religious and political practices, institutions and discourses in the early modern and modern world. His research focuses on the gendered ascetic practices of saints revered by both Hindus and Muslims and their use to establish and articulate religious and political power.
His research and teaching highlight how historical and religious narratives constantly reconstruct and deploy the past to serve particular socio-political agendas. His research and teaching also reexamine notions of mutually exclusive religions, hybridity, and syncretism and reconceptualizes relationships between religions and other social and cultural phenomena.
He is currently working on a book titled "An Ascetic Body Politic: Sainthood and Sovereignty in Kashmir," which examines depictions of asceticism in histories and hagiographies written in late sixteenth-century Kashmir and analyzes how the bodily practices of ascetic saints like Lal Ded and Nund Rishi were used to shape ideas of gender, sainthood and sovereignty.
His more recent research analyzes appropriations of these ascetic saints by Orientalists, Kashmiri separatists, and other contemporary political leaders. This research demonstrates how, on the one hand, current religious and political identities are projected into the past and, on the other hand, how ideas about these saints from the past persist and interrupt contemporary religious and political agendas.
He teaches courses on South Asian and Islamic World History and the different relationships between religion and politics across the world. Each of his courses attends to how power is established, articulated, administered, and contested over time; how race, gender, sexuality, and identities play an integral role in those power structures; and how these categories are differently defined and constituted in different historical and social contexts.
More information on Accardi’s research and publications can be found on his Academia.edu website.
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