• James B. Duke Associate Professor of Asian Studies, Religion, and Anthropology
  • 864.294.3293
  • Furman Hall 206E
  • lisa.knight@furman.edu

Dr. Knight received her doctorate in anthropology from Syracuse University. Funded by fellowships from Fulbright and the American Institute of Bangladesh Studies, she conducted two years of fieldwork researching Baul women in India and Bangladesh. A small religious group that comes from Hindu and Muslim communities, Bauls are best known as men who are musical mendicants and wander in rural areas and by train. Fieldwork involved a great deal of wandering and traveling to various rural and urban areas to locate women members of this group. Dr. Knight's work addresses the experiences and perspectives of Baul women, previously unexplored in scholarship, and has been published in a book, Contradictory Lives: Baul Women in India and Bangladesh, as well as in articles. Currently she is researching teaching narratives and the intersections of Bauls and NGOs.​

Name Title Description


Cultural Anthropology

Introduction to social and cultural anthropology. Topics include the comparative study of subsistence regimes and economics, stratification and political organization, marriage and kinship, culture and personality, religion, and social and cultural change.


Peoples & Cultures of World

Ethnographic survey of global cultural diversity, with case studies of Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. Topics may include daily life, sociocultural and environmental change and adaptation, migration, politics, work, religion, gender, family, and art among foraging, agricultural, and industrial societies.


Anthropology of Ethnicity

Ethnic, racial, and religious minorities in America and around the world. Ethnicity and ethnocentrism, race and scientific" racism; stigmatization and prejudice; assimilation and pluralism; primordialism and circumstantialism; nationalism and identity politics."


Anthropological Mthds & Theory

History of theory and practice in social and cultural anthropology from the armchair evolutionists" of the late 19th century to the symbolic and interpretive anthropologists of the late 20th century. 4 credits."


Seminar in Asian Studies

Capstone experience for majors in the discipline. Varied topics.


Magic and Religion

This course focuses on how people from cultures around the world conceptualize the spiritual realm, and how such conceptualizations are shaped by the values and social relations of the cultures in which they occur. Of particular concern is the relationship between magic and religion. We will examine the diverse ways in which humans attempt to communicate and intervene with the divine as well as ritually mark crucial moments such as birth, death, illness, and change.


Religions of the World

Important ideas and practices of selected major religions in historical and cultural context.


Hindu Cultures, Rel Worlds

Exploration of Hindu beliefs and practices with an emphasis on major religious themes that link classical traditions with popular piety.


Religions of South Asia

Introduction to contemporary religions of South Asia by examining the religions that have developed in the Indian subcontinent151Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, and Sikhism151as well as the influences of religions born elsewhere--Islam, Christianity, and others.


Women & Power in Hinduism

Exploration into Hindu women's religious lives and the female nature of power in Hindu cosmology, mythology, and society. Attention given to the complex interrelationships among mythic, domestic, and economic gender hierarchies, particularly in the contemporary cultural context.


Senior Seminar

  • Contradictory Lives: Baul Women in India and Bangladesh. New York: Oxford UP, 2011
  • "Women and the Baul Tradition." Encyclopedia of Women and Islamic Cultures. E. J. Brill
  • Publishers, Leiden, 2011
  • "B?uls in Conversation: Cultivating Oppositional Ideology." In International Journal of Hindu Studies 14, no. 1 (2010):71-120.
  • "Renouncing Expectations: Single Baul Women and the Value of Being a Wife." In Women's Renunciation in South Asia: Nuns, Yoginis, Saints, and Singers, edited by Meena Khandelwal, Sondra L. Hausner, and Ann Grodzins Gold, 191-222. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006.

South Asia, anthropology, religion, gender, Bauls, performance, embodiment, feminist ethnography.

Ph.D. in Anthropology
Syracuse University
Certificate of South Asian Studies
Syracuse University
M.A. in Anthropology
Syracuse University
B.A. in Religion
Oberlin College

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