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Brian Hatcher
Brian Hatcher
Contact Info:
Tufts University
Department of Religion
Eaton Hall, Room 314 
Medford, MA 02155

Office: 617-627-3418
Fax: 617-627-6615

Packard Chair of Theology

PhD, Harvard University
MA, Harvard University
MDiv, Yale University
BA, Carleton College

Research Interests:
Hinduism and Religion in modern South Asia Religion and Colonialism
Modern Bengal

Brian Hatcher's research focuses on religious and intellectual transformations in colonial and contemporary South Asia, with a special interest in early colonial Bengal. His publications explore issues of vernacular modernity, translation, the life histories of Sanskrit scholars under colonialism, and the modalities of religious eclecticism and scriptural reform among a wide range of Calcutta-based intellectuals.

His most recent book-length project, Religion before India, is a comparison of the emergence of the Swaminanarayan Sampraday in Gujarat and the Brahmo Samaj in Bengal as two religious polities that come to be scripted in terms of an emergent "empire of reform" after the 1830s.

At present, he is conducting research toward a new book entitled Mapping a Monastic Mandala, which explores the networking and emplacement of Shaiva monastic complexes in southwestern Bengal from the eighteenth to the twentieth century under the leadership of the Dasnami Sampraday.

Read an interview with Brian Hatcher.


Vidyasagar The Life and After-life of an Eminent Indian (Routledge 2014)

Bourgeois Hinduism, or Faith of the Modern Vedantists: Rare Discourses from Early Colonial Bengal (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008)

Eclecticism and Modern Hindu Discourse (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999)

Idioms of Improvement: Vidyasagar and Cultural Encounter in Bengal (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1996)


Ishvarchandra Vidyasagar, Hindu Widow Marriage: An Epochal Work on Social Reform from Colonial India. Translated by Brian A. Hatcher (New York: Columbia University Press, 2011)

Edited Volumes:

Hinduism in the Modern World. Edited by Brian Hatcher

Trans-colonial Modernities in South Asia. Edited by Michael S. Dodson and Brian A. Hatcher (New York: Routledge, 2012)

Recent Articles and Book Chapters:

"Imitation, Then and Now: On the Emergence of Philanthropy in Early Colonial Calcutta" Modern Asian Studies. Special Issue: Charity and Philanthropy in South Asia 52/1 (2018). 62-98. DOI 10.1017/S0026749X17000324

"Translation in the Zone of the Dubash: Colonial Mediations of Anuvāda," Journal of Asian Studies 76/1 (2017). 1-28. DOI 10.1017/S0021911816001571

"Take me to the River: Religion Seen and Unseen in Early Colonial Bengal," in: In Quest of the Historian’s Craft: Essays in Honour of Professor B. B. Chaudhuri, Part II: Polity, Society and Culture, edited by Arun Bandyopadhyay and Sanjukta Das Gupta. New Delhi: Manohar, 2017. 593-616.

"Eka Ādhunika Naciketā: Rabīndranāth o Upaniṣad" (in Bengali), in: Itihāser baicitrya: Adhyāpaka Binayabhūṣaṇa Caudhurī sammānāgrantha, edited by Gautam Niyogi, Nirbāna Basu and Saumitra Śrīmānī. Kolkata: Bangiya Itihāsa Samiti, 2017. 172-82.

"India's Many Puritans: Connectivity and Friction in the Study of Modern Hinduism" History Compass 15/1 (2017). 1-12. DOI 10.1111/hic3.12369

"Situating the Swaminarayan Tradition in the Historiography of Modern Hindu Reform," in: Swaminarayan Hinduism: Tradition, Adaptation and Identity, edited by Raymond B. Williams and Yogi Trivedi. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2016. 6-37.

Recent Lectures:

"A Dasnami Network in Colonial Bengal," European Conference on South Asian Studies, École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris, July 26-27, 2018.

"Mapping a Monastic Mandala: Dasnami Networks in Colonial Southwestern Bengal," Department of Archaeology, University of Calcutta, August 29, 2017.

"The Joys and Challenges of Reading Rammohun Roy," Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN, February 21, 2017.