Anthony Cerulli’s research combines ethnographic, historical, and philological methods to address central issues in the study of religion, such as the nature of ritual, comparitivism, and the politics of religious rhetoric. His work also contributes to the fields of narrative medicine and medical humanities, where, in the American literary context, he has written about the relationship between religion, science, and authority in the work of Nathaniel Hawthorne. Most of his work focuses on South Asia, however, where he examines associations between Indian religions and healing traditions. He is interested in how and why people “do things with texts” to heal and sustain well-being. To that end, his research looks at the intersections of premodern and modern literary cultures in India at sites of ritual healing, among Hindu communities, and in institutions of medical education.

Anthony is also the creator of MANUSCRIPTISTAN, a photo-ethnography project.
•In 2018: two images from the project —“Manuscriptistan 01” and “Manuscriptistan 04”— appeared in the photography journal, Light (issue 07, Fall)
•April 2019: lecture on the Manuscriptistan project for UW–Madison’s South Asia Speaker Series
•Sept-Dec 2019: an exhibit of 62 images from Manuscriptistan hung at the Kamin Gallery at The University of Pennsylvania [links to an article about the exhibit in the Daily Pennsylvanian; a photo-essay on the UPenn Library Blog; and a public talk + panel discussion about the project]
•Jan-May 2020: a handful of images from Manuscriptistan were juried into an group exhibition at the Chazen Museum of Art in Madison, WI.


Ph.D., University of Chicago
M.A., Yale University
B.A., Loyola University Chicago

Other Publications

Books & Edited Volumes

  • Somatic Lessons: Narrating Patienthood and Illness in Indian Medical Literature. SUNY Series in Hindu Studies. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2012.

  • Medical Texts and Manuscripts in Indian Cultural History. Co-edited with Dominik Wujastyk and Karin Preisendanz. New Delhi: Manohar Press, 2013.

  • The Gift in India in Theory and Practice. Co-edited with Miriam Benteler. International Journal of Hindu Studies, 22/2, 2018.

Articles, Chapters, Essays

  • 2018. “Politicking Ayurvedic Education.” Asian Medicine, 13/1-2.

  • 2018. “Gifting Knowledge for Long Life.” International Journal of Hindu Studies, 22/2.

  • 2018. “The Gift in India in Theory and Practice.” Co-Authored with Miriam Benteler. International Journal of Hindu Studies, 22/2.

  • 2016. “Body, Self, and Embodiment in the Sanskrit Classics of Ayurveda.” In Refiguring the Body: Embodiment in South Asian Religions, Barbara Holdrege and Karen Pechilis (eds.), 59-88. Albany: State University of New York Press.

  • 2016. “Mineral Healing: Gemstone Remedies in Astrological and Medical Traditions.” Co-authored with Caterina Guenzi. In Soulless Matter, Seats of Energy: Metals, Gems and Minerals in South Asian Religions and Culture, Fabrizio Ferrari and Thomas Dähnhardt (eds.), 73-93. Sheffield and Bristol, CT: Equinox.

  • 2016. “അവസാനം മലയാളം വായനക്കാർക്ക് ജീവാനന്ദനം എത്തിച്ചേർന്നു.” ആമുഖം – പി. കെ. വി. ആനന്ദ് (ട്രാൻസ്), ജീവാനന്ദനം, 3-9. തൃശ്ശൂർ: കുന്നത്ത് മന ആയുർവേദം പുസ്തകങ്ങൾ.” [in Malayalam – “At last, the Jivanandanam has arrived for Malayalam readers.” Preface to P.V.K. Anand (trans.), Jivanandanaṃ, 3-9. Thrissur: Kunnath Mana Ayurveda Books.]

  • 2015. “Unpuzzling an Aporia: Theorizing Acts of Ritual and Medicine in South India.” Journal of Ritual Studies 29/2: 25-43.

  • 2015. “Storytelling and Accountability for Illness in Sanskrit Medical Literature.” In Disease, Religion, and Healing in Asia: Collaborations & Collisions, I. Vargas-O’Bryan and Z. Xun (eds.), 86-101. London: Routledge.

  • 2014. “Editors’ Introduction: Roundtable on Intellectual Freedom, Vigilantism, and Censorship in India.” Co-authored with Eswaran Sridharan. India Review 13/3 (August): 274-276.

  • 2014. “Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Warring Doctors and Meddling Ministers.” Co-authored with Sarah Berry. Mosaic: a journal for the interdisciplinary study of literature 47/1 (March): 111-128.

  • 2013. “Mad Scientists, Narrative, and Social Power: A Collaborative Learning Activity.” Co-authored with Sarah Berry. Journal of Medical Humanities 34/4 (December): 451-454.

  • 2013. “Zoroastrianism.” In Religions of the World: An Introduction to Culture and Meaning, Lawrence Sullivan (ed.), 283-304. Minneapolis: Fortress Press.

  • 2013. “The Joy of Life: Medicine, Politics, and Religion.” In Medical Texts and Manuscripts in Indian Cultural History, A. Cerulli, K. Preisendanz, and D. Wujastyk (eds.), 159-179. New Delhi: Manohar Press.

  • 2012. “On the Allegorization of Action for Health.” eJournal of Indian Medicine, 5/1: 25-35.

  • 2011. “Calculating Fecundity in the Kasyapa Samhita.” In Health and Religious Rituals in South Asia: Disease, Possession and Healing, Fabrizio Ferrari (ed.), 114-126. London: Routledge.

  • 2010. “Ayurveda.” In Brill’s Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Volume II: Texts, Rituals, Arts, and Concepts, K.A. Jacobsen, H. Basu, A. Malinar, V. Narayanan (eds.), 267-280. Leiden: Brill (revised online ed., 2013).

  • 2009. “Know Thy Body, Know Thyself: Decoding Knowledge of the Atman in Sanskrit Medical Literature.” Co-authored with Brahmadathan U.M.T. eJournal of Indian Medicine, 2/3: 101-107.

  • 2009. “Narrative Wellbeing: Anandarayamakhin’s The Joy of Life (Jivanandanam).” Indian Journal of History of Science, 44/2: 231-246.

  • 2009. “On the Nature of the Patient in Sanskrit Medical Literature.” In Ashtanga Hridaya Sathram, N.K. Mahadevan (ed.), 74-77. Kottayam: Sreekrishna Ayurveda Kendra.

  • 2008. “Mental Disease in the Ayurvedadipika of Cakrapanidatta.” In Navathy Pranamam (essays for V.M.C. Shankaran Namboodiri on his 90th birthday), V.M.D. Namboodiri (ed.). Venkitangu: Ullanoor Mana Trust.

Photography Exhibits

  • 2020. “Manuscriptistan.” Chazen Museum of Art, Faculty 2020 Exhibition, Madison, WI (Feb–May: 4 pieces, juried group exhibit).

  • 2019. “Manuscriptistan.” Kamin Gallery, Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA (09 September – 13 December, 45 pieces).

  • 2011. “കേരളം അനുദിനം/keraḷaṃ anudinaṃ/Kerala Everyday.” The Little Theatre, Rochester, NY     (September-October, 20 pieces).

  • 2011. “South India Snaps.” Mercer Gallery (“Director’s Choice”), Monroe Community College-SUNY (April-June, 16 pieces).

  • 2010. “Malabari Manorama: Scenes from Kerala.” Demarest Hall, Hobart & William Smith Colleges     (January-February, 25 pieces).


Among his current projects, Cerulli is working on are a translation of a Sanskrit allegory about medicine, statecraft, and the body (Jīvānandanam); an historical ethnography about education among contemporary college-educated and traditionally-trained practitioners of Ayurveda and changes in ayurvedic education in India between 1890 and 1975; a study of Hanuman’s “medicine journey” to retrieve life-saving herbs in the Sanskrit Ramayana and some of the episode’s iterative lives, both premodern and recent, in South Asia and elsewhere; a photoethnography project on the aesthetics of manuscript archives in India; and an edited volume on physicians and patients in premodern South Asia. He is the Managing Editor of India Review (since 2009) and an Associate Editor of Asian Medicine (since 2016).


American Academy of Religion
Classical Ayurvedic Texts Society
European Association for the Study of Religion
Int’l Assoc. for the Study of Traditional Asian Medicine
Kerala Council for Historical Research

Anthony Cerulli

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