Caleb Simmons, an internationally recognized scholar in South Asian Studies, is receiving a University of Arizona Early Career Scholars Award.
Simmons, just promoted to tenured Associate Professor of Religious Studies, joined the faculty in 2014 as an expert in Hinduism and South Asian Religions. Simmons has published extensively, been active in service and outreach, and teaches courses ranging from a senior capstone seminar to large in-person General Education courses to online teaching. He also created and leads the university’s first ever study abroad program in India.
“Even at his early career stage, he has become an internationally-recognized scholar in South Asian Studies,” said Karen Seat, head of the Department of Religious Studies and Classics and as the director of the School of International Languages, Literatures, and Cultures. “He began his career here by single-handedly creating an entirely new curriculum in South Asian religions, successfully proposing six new courses during his first years here.”
Announced by the Office of the Provost, the award honors “outstanding early career faculty who are at the forefront of their disciplines and make highly valued contributions to the teaching, creative activity, and service priorities set out in the University's Strategic Plan” and provides $5,000 to further the scholarly work. Simmons is one of four faculty honored.
“I am especially happy that this brings recognition to both the College of Humanities and the Department of Religious Studies and Classics. We have amazing faculty who excel at teaching, research, and service. I’m honored to represent them with this award,” Simmons said. “In the Humanities, we are doing ground-breaking research and preparing our students to face all the challenges that exist in our fast-paced globalized world. I hope that my research and teaching reflects the incredible work we are doing in the college.”
Simmons will use the award money to support research for his third monograph, tentatively titled Displaced Gods: Diaspora Hinduism and the Transformation of Religious Space and Place. The project will explore diasporic South Indian Hindu communities in Cambodia, Indonesia, Guyana, Hawaii, and Arizona, focusing on how space and place are reconfigured in new settings in order to make it an acceptable place to practice Hinduism.
“Caleb Simmons is a world-class scholar who has already made outstanding contributions to the university through his enthusiasm for teaching, research and engagement,” said College of Humanities Dean Alain-Philippe Durand. “This is a well-deserved honor and I have every expectation that his excellent work will continue to earn widespread notice and acclaim.”
Simmons most recent publication is the book Devotional Sovereignty: Kingship and Religion in India (Oxford University Press, 2020), which examines how the late early modern/early colonial court of Mysore reenvisioned notions of kingship, territory, and religion, especially its articulations through devotion. He also has publications and continuing research interests related to a broad range of contemporary topics, including ecological issues and sacred geography in India, South Asian diaspora communities, and material and popular cultures that arise as a result of globalization.
“Dr. Simmons will be a central figure in South Asian Studies here at the University of Arizona and in the larger scholarly community for years to come,” Seat said. “He exemplifies the highest ideals of a scholar-educator at our land-grant public university.”