• Sears, Tamara
  • Formatted Name: Tamara Sears
  • Position: Associate Professor
  • Research Interests: South Asian visual culture; Religious art and architecture; Medieval studies; Colonial historiography; Landscape studies; Environment; Transregional studies
  • Ph.D., History of Art, University of Pennsylvania, 2004
  • B.A., Wesleyan University, 1996
  • Office Hours: Via zoom Wed. 12-1:00 pm Please e-mail to schedule a meeting time.
  • Office Location: Art History Department, Room 207

Biographical Information:

Tamara Sears is Associate Professor of Art History at Rutgers University. Her research focuses on the art and architectural history of South Asia, with a particular focus on the Indian subcontinent. Her first book, Worldly Gurus and Spiritual Kings: Architecture and Asceticism in Medieval India (Yale University Press, 2014), received the PROSE award in Architecture and Urban Planning. She is currently completing a second book that examines the relationships among architecture, environmental history, and travel on local, regional, and global scales. A third book project, on architectural revivalism and rhetorics of secularism in twentieth century temple architecture, is currently underway. Most recently, she edited a series of essays and catalog of modern Indian works on paper from the collection of Umesh and Sunanda Gaur (Ahmedabad: Mapin, 2022), which was exhibited at the Grinnell College Museum of Art. Her research has been supported by grants and fellowships from Fulbright, the J. Paul Getty Foundation, the National Humanities Center, Dumbarton Oaks, and the Clark Art Institute. She was recently elected Vice President of the American Council for Southern Asian Art, for a 4-year term beginning in September 2022, after which she will serve an additional term as President of ACSAA, from 2026-2030.

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Books and Edited Volumes

Worldly Gurus and Spiritual Kings: Architecture and Asceticism in Medieval India (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2014).

  • Winner of PROSE Award in the category of Architecture and Urban Planning, for Excellence in Professional and Scholarly Publishing by the American Association of Publishers

"Mobility, Mercantile Communities, and the Transmission of Architectural Knowledge in Medieval India" (special issue of Ars Orientalis, co-edited w/ Nachiket Chanchani, No. 45) 

Paper Trails: Modern Indian Works on Paper from the Gaur Collection (Ahmedabad: Mapin, 2022)

Selected Articles and Book Chapters

"Decolonizing Crocodiles, Repatriating Birds: Human-Animal Relations in the Indian Landscape,” in The Routledge Companion to Decolonizing Art History, edited by Tatiana Flores, Florencia San Martin, and Charlene Villaseñor Black (Routledge, 2024), 419-431.

"Liberating Migrations: On the Trail of Jain Temples in Central India,” in Chakshudana or Opening the Eyes: Seeing South Asian Art Anew, edited by Pika Ghosh and Pushkar Sohoni (Routledge, 2023), 93-110.

“Rebuilding Konarak in the Twentieth Century: Legacies of Colonial Archaeology and Discourses of Inclusivity in Gwalior’s Birla Temple,” in How Secular is Art? On the Art of Art History in South Asia, edited by Tapati Guha-Thakurta and Vazira Zamindar (New Delhi: Cambridge University Press, 2023), 353-386.

"On stone, storms, and seismic tremors: ecologies of representation in medieval India," postmedieval 13 (October 2022): 223–243

“Ibn Battuta’s Buddhists: Monuments, Memory, and the Materiality of Travel” in Encountering Buddhism and Islam in Premodern Central and South Asia, edited by Blain Auer and Ingo Strauch (De Gruyter, 2019), 97-127.

“The Shape of Babur’s Lake: Architecture and Water in the Central Indian Frontier,” in Water Histories of South Asia: The Materiality of Liquescence, edited by Venugopal Maddipati and Sugata Ray (Routledge, 2019), 19-36.

“Considering Kadwāhā as Palimpsest,” in Palimpsests: Buildings, Sites, Time, edited by Nadja Aksamija, Clark Maines, and Phil Wagoner (Brepols, 2017), 183-202.

“Mobile Communities and Temple Towns: Kadwāhā at the Turn of the First Millennium A.D.,” in Contextualizing Material Culture in South and Central Asia, vol. 2, edited by Ute Franke and Verena Widorn, South Asian Archaeology 2010 (Brepols, 2016), 345-359.

“Following River Routes and Artistic Transmissions in Medieval Central India,” Ars Orientalis 45 (2015): 43-77.

“Reconsidering Kadwaha's Temples: History, Chronology, and Patronage,” in Prāsāda-nidhi: Studies in Indian Temple Architecture and Sculpture, A felicitation volume in honour of Professor M.A. Dhaky, edited by Parul Pandya Dhar and Gerd J. R. Mevissen (Delhi: Aryan International, 2015), 67-83.

“In the Gaze of the Guru: Shikshadana Scenes at Khajuraho,” in Art, Architecture and Iconography in South Asia A Felicitation Volume in Honour of Dr. Devangana Desai, edited by Anila Verghese and Anna L. Dallapiccola (Delhi: Aryan Books, 2015), 151-168.

“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), 172-94.

“Mapping Omkareshvara’s Early Medieval Past: Following Sculptural Fragments along the Parikrama Path,” in Patrimoine Culturel de L’Eau: Cities and Settlements, Temples and Tanks in Central India, edited by Michael Willis, et. al. (Bhopal : Directorate of Archaeology, Archives and Museums, Govt. of M.P., 2014), 113-132.

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

  • Translated into French, 2017.

“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 Maṭhas 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): 107-26.

“‘Whither Vernacular?’: Discussions from the Seminar,” in Traditional and Vernacular Architecture, edited by Subashree Krishnaswami (Madras: Madras Craft Foundation, 2003), 133-40.

Courses Taught at Rutgers

  • Art of India (undergraduate lecture)
  • Introduction to Asian Art (undergraduate lecture)
  • Nature, Landscape, and Environmental Art History (graduate seminar)
  • Urban Encounters in Art and Literature (co-taught seminar, with Anjali Nerlekar)

Selected Awards and Distinctions

  • Rutgers Board of Trustees Research Fellowship for Scholarly Excellence (2017)
  • Clark Art Institute (2017)
  • National Humanities Center (2016)
  • Dumbarton Oaks Research Library, Garden and Landscape Studies Program (2015-2016)
  • Fulbright-Nehru Senior Research Fellowship, India (2012)
  • J. Paul Getty Trust Postdoctoral Research Fellowship (non-residential) (2008-2009)
  • Society of Architectural Historians (2006)
  • Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad Fellowship (2001)

Additional Information: http://rutgers.academia.edu/TamaraSears