B.A., Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT, 1996
Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania, 2004
Assistant Professor, History of Art
South Asian art and architecture
OFFICE: Loria 651
TEL: 203.432.3205

Tamara Sears is a specialist on the art and architectural history of South Asia with particular interests in the relationships between political power, religion, and the production of sacred architecture in ancient and medieval India. Her research focuses on the relationship between ritual and architecture, asceticism and worldly power, and iconology and religious experience. In addition, she has written on the continuity and reuse of Hindu temple and monastery sites during the Islamic period, and she has explored secondary interests in the role that archaeology and the writing of art history have played in the construction of knowledge in the colonial and postcolonial worlds.
Her first book, Worldly Gurus and Spiritual Kings: Architecture and Asceticism in Early Medieval India, examines the connections between the emergence of the Hindu monastery as a new architectural type, the regionalization and localization of royal power, and the institutionalization of new forms of ritual practice from the eighth through twelfth centuries. She has begun a new project that looks at architecture as an archive for mapping mobility, cultural authority, and the spread of religious knowledge and courtly culture around the turn of the first millennium.

Before joining Yale as an assistant professor in 2009, she held faculty positions in the departments of Art History at New York University and Florida State University. She has been a recipient of a J. Paul Getty Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in the History of Art and Humanities, a Scott Opler Emerging Scholar Fellowship from the Society of Architectural Historians, a Fulbright-Nehru Senior Research Fellowship, and a Fulbright-Hays DDRA.

At Yale, she teaches lecture courses on South Asian art and architecture, as well as seminars that explore interrelated topics such as ritual and architectural space, aesthetics and courtly culture, iconology and representation, and visual narrative and performance.

Selected Publications
Worldly Gurus and Spiritual Kings: The Architecture of Asceticism in Early Medieval India (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2014).

“Encountering Ascetics On and Beyond the Indian Temple Wall,” in History and Material Culture in Asian Religions, edited by Benjamin Fleming and Richard Mann (London: Routledge, 2014), 172-194.

“From Guru to God: Yogic Prowess and Places of Practice in Early-Medieval India,” Yoga: The Art of Transformation, edited by Debra Diamond (Washington, D.C.: Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, 2013), 47-57.

“Building Beyond the Temple: Sacred Centers and Living Communities in Medieval Central India,” in A Companion to Asian Art and Architecture, edited by Rebecca Brown and Deborah Hutton, (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011), 123-152.

“Fortified Mathas and Fortress Mosques: The Reuse of Hindu Monastic Sites in the Sultanate Period,” Archives of Asian Art 59 (2009): 7-31.

“Constructing the Guru: Ritual Authority and Architectural Space in Medieval India,” The Art Bulletin 40, no. 1 (March 2008): 7-31.

“Śaiva Monastic Complexes in Twelfth-Century Rajasthan: The Pāśupatas and Cāhamānas at Menāl,” South Asian Studies 23 (2007): 107-126.

“‘Whither Vernacular?’: Discussions from the Seminar,” in Traditional and Vernacular Architecture, edited by Subashree Krishnaswami and coordinated by Michael W. Meister (Madras: Madras Craft Foundation, 2003), 133-140.

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