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.
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