Anthropology professor's book honored with three prizes

September 1, 2015


Lucinda Ramberg, assistant professor of anthropology and feminist, gender, & sexuality studies, recently received three honors for her book, "Given to the Goddess: South Indian Devadasis and the Sexuality of Religion" (Duke University Press, 2014).Ramberg's work was honored as the winner of the 2015 Clifford Geertz Prize in the anthropology of religion, given by the Society for the Anthropology of Religion; the first Michelle Rosaldo Prize for a first book in feminist anthropology, given by the Association for Feminist Anthropology; and the 2015 Ruth Benedict Book Prize, given by the Association for Queer Anthropology.

“In my long experience in academia, I have never seen a first book win so many prizes,” said Romance studies professor Kathleen Long, director of the Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program. 

The Geertz Prize encourages excellence in the anthropology of religion and is named in honor of the late Professor Clifford Geertz, in recognition of his many distinguished contributions to the anthropological study of religion.  

The Rosaldo prize honors a first book that draws on and makes a significant contribution to feminist anthropology. Michelle Z. Rosaldo was one of the earliest theorists in feminist anthropology and with Louise Lamphere, was co-editor of "Woman, Culture and Society," the 1974 volume that helped launch the field. 

The Ruth Benedict Book Prize recognizes an outstanding single-authored monograph that explore issues in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer studies through anthropology.

Ramberg wrote "Given to the Goddess" after conducting two years of ethnographic research in South India, on a practice in which girls and boys referred to as “jogatis” or "devadasis" become married to goddesses. Through studies on the lives of these jogatis, who conduct rites of the goddess and engage in sex outside matrimony, Ramberg is able to ask provocative questions about marriage, sex, and our modern conceptions of gender, family and religion.

"Given to the Goddess" was also excerpted for this story on The Wire.

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