Leela Prasad Selected to Lead the American Academy of Religion

Leela Prasad, professor of religious studies at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, has been elected vice president of the American Academy of Religion. The leadership role puts Dr. Prasad in a position to serve as president-elect next year and as the association’s president the following year.

The American Academy of Religion is a global organization of the academic study of religion and allied fields. Founded in 1909, it has more than 8,000 members from across North and South America, Asia, Africa, and Europe. Dr. Prasad will be the fourth Asian American woman and the third faculty member from Duke’s department of religious studies to lead the American Academy of Religion in its 113-year history.

Professor Prasad’s research focuses on the intersection of religious studies, anthropology, history and literature, with particular attention to South Asia. Her most recent book, The Audacious Raconteur: Sovereignty and Storytelling in Colonial India (Cornell University Press, 2020) used the oral narrations and writings of four Indians in colonial India to show how even under the most oppressive rule, storytellers and artists assert cultural independence and ultimately remain sovereign.

Dr. Prasad joined the faculty at Duke University in 1999. She was promoted to full professor in 2020. Professor Prasad holds master’s degrees from the University of Hyderabad in India and Kansas State University. She earned a Ph.D. in folklore and folklife from the University of Pennsylvania.

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