Curriculum Vitae


Department of Religion
Olin Hall 149
Whitman College
Walla Walla, WA 99362
Phone: 509-527-5246
FAX: 509-527-5039


B.A. in History and Religion (1983)
Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine

Non-degree Language Study (1983-85)
University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka

A. M. in Religious Studies (1986)
University of Chicago Divinity School

Ph.D. in the History of Religions (1992)
University of Chicago Divinity School


National Forensics League State Champion Debater, 1979

James Bowdoin Award for Scholastic Excellence, each term,- 1979-83

Phi Beta Kappa, 1982

Highest Honors in Religion, 1983

Fulbright Scholar in Sri Lanka, 1983-85

Divinity School Entering Fellowship, 1985-86

Committee on Southern Asian Studies Stipend, 1987-88; 1991-92

Divinity School Fellowship, 1988-89; 1989-90

Ph.D. Qualifying Exams passed "with distinction," 1989

Committee on Southern Asian Studies Research Grant, 1990-91

Junior Fellowship, Institute for the Advanced Study of -Religion, 1991-92

Ph.D. awarded "with distinction," 1992

Johnston Visiting Professorship, 1993-94

National Endowment for the Humanities, Summer Stipend, 1994

Thomas D. Howells Award for Outstanding Humanities Teaching,- 1995

Arnold and Lois Graves Award in the Humanities, 1996-1997

Associate, Committee on Southern Asian Studies, University of Chicago, Fall, 1996

Paul Garrett Fellowship, 1999


American Academy of Religion, member, 1992-present

American Institute of Sri Lankan Studies, Board of Directors, 1996-present

Intercollegiate Sri Lanka Education (I.S.L.E.) Program, Board of Directors, 1996-present


Teaching Assistant, Bowdoin
College Led discussion sessions for and lectured in "Introduction to the Study of Religion", 1983

Resident Assistant, I.S.L.E. Program in Sri Lanka
Teaching and administering a four-month college study-abroad program, 1983

Manuscripts Assistant, The University of Chicago
Prepared calendars for manuscript collections and answered reference queries in the Department of Special Collections, 1986-89

Lecturer, Northwestern University
Taught Pali Language to second and third year graduate students in the Dept. of History and Literature of Religions, 1987-88

Editorial Assistant, History of Religions Journal
Edited scholarly articles, corresponded with contributors, managed the publishing cycle, 1988-89

Student Coordinator, Workshop on Buddhism
Handled the bureaucratic responsibilities involved in sponsoring fourteen events at the University of Chicago, 1988-89

Lecturer, The University of Chicago
Taught Introductory Pali to graduate students, 1989-90

Teaching Assistant, The University of Chicago
Assisted with the Junior Colloquium on the Philosophy of History, Department of History in the College, Winter 1990

Executive Assistant, Amnesty International
Translated Sinhala "disappearance" reports, legal statements, news clippings and correspondence for the International Secretariat in London, Summer 1990

Visiting Lecturer in Comparative Religion, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka
Taught theory, method and world religions to M.A. students in South Asia's only graduate Comparative Religions program, and assisted curriculum development, 1990-91

Assistant Professor Of Religion, Whitman College, 1992-1997;
Associate Professor, 1997-present
Courses on World Religions, South Asian Religions, Buddhist Civilizations, Islam, Religion and Gender, Sacred Biography, East Asian Religions, Religious Pluralism, Theory and Method in the study of Religion and Introduction to Asian Studies in addition to General Studies (First Year Core, Western Antiquity and Modernity; Senior Colloquium: Issues) and advising responsibilities, 1992-present

Resident Director, I.S.L.E. Program in Sri Lanka
Overseeing independent study projects and the administration of the program, Spring, 1997


Sanskrit (reading, all genres)
Pali (reading, all genres; chanting)
Sinhala (reading, all genres; colloquial fluency)
German (reading)
French (reading)
Spanish (reading)


"Communal Karma and Karmic Community in Theravada Buddhist History," delivered at the Conference on Constituting Communities, Breckenridge Center of Bowdoin College, July 2000

"The American Buddha: A Brief History from the Streets back to the Greeks," delivered at Drew University, October 1999

"Stamp Acts: Philatelic Self-representation in Ceylon and Sri Lanka," delivered at the Annual Conference on South Asia, Madison, Wisconsin, October 1998 and at the International Center for Ethnic Studies, Colombo, Jan. 1999

"Four Modes of Finding History in the Noble Quest," delivered at an American Academy of Religion-sponsored collaboration on "Pali Texts in New Contexts," University of Chicago, May, 1998

"Mapping Sanchi in a Whole Buddhist World," delivered at the Postgraduate Institute of Pali and Buddhist Studies, University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka, June, 1997

"Mahasena at the Mahavihara: The Interpretation and Politics of History in Premodern Sri Lanka," delivered at the Conference on the Uses of the Past in South Asia, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, April, 1997.

"The Mahayana Origins of the Theravada," delivered at the Ceylon Studies Seminar, the University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka, April, 1997.

"The Politics of Treasure Pits," delivered at the Social Scientists' Association, Colombo, Sri Lanka, March, 1997

"The Arhats of Ancient Anuradhapura," delivered at the University of Chicago, Workshop on Buddhism, November, 1996.

"An 'H' of 'HR'," delivered at the conference on "Reconstructing a History of Religions: Problems and Possibilities," Western Maryland College, November 1996 and at a symposium on the same topic, University of Chicago Divinity School, November 1996.

"Archaeology, Treasure Pits and Demons from Across the Sea: Digging up the History and Practice of a Sinhala Mytheme," delivered at the South Asia Workshop, University of Chicago, November, 1996

"World Map, World Order: Imagining and Commanding Space in Buddhist South Asia," delivered at the Association of Asian Studies, Honolulu, April 1996

"Pushing Poson: Power and a Buddhist Pilgrimage in Postcolonial Sri Lanka," delivered at the Annual Conference on South Asia, Madison, WI, October, 1995

"The Popular Culture of Poson: Innovation as Tradition in a Sri Lankan Buddhist Festival," delivered at the Western Conference, Association of Asian Studies, Lewiston, Idaho, September, 1995

"Will the Historical Buddha Please Sit Down?," delivered at the Symposium on Building Buddhas, Drew University, April, 1995

"Deanimating and Reanimating the Dead in Rural Sri Lanka," delivered at the American Academy of Religion, Chicago, November, 1994

"Positivist Paradise Lost: Three Lectures on the Mahavamsa," delivered at the International Centre for Ethnic Studies, Colombo, Sri Lanka, July 1994

"The History and Politics of Kelaniya Temple," delivered at the Social Scientists' Association, Colombo, Sri Lanka, July 1993

"Buddhism and Politics in Contemporary Sri Lanka," delivered to the Teacher's Workshop on Contemporary Religious Issues in South Asia, South Asia Outreach Educational Project, Chicago, July 1992.

"From Cruel Asoka to Dharmasoka: Ecumenicalism and the Stabilization of Peace in Sri Lanka," delivered at the Seminar on Religion and Violence in South Asia, the University of Chicago, April, 1992

"Multireligion on the Bus in Sri Lanka: Beyond 'Influence' and 'Syncretism' in the Study of Religious Meetings," delivered at the Institute for the Advanced Study of Religion, The University of Chicago Divinity School, November 1991

"The Psychology of Healing in a Sri Lankan Village," delivered at the University of Peradeniya Psychological Seminar, February 1991

"Stupa, Story and Empire," delivered at the University of Chicago Symposium on Buddhist Biography, April, 1990

"Hearing History: The Pali Chronicles of Sri Lanka," delivered at the University of Chicago Colloquium on Text and Knowledge in South Asia, April, 1989 and (revised) February, 1990.

"Buddhists and Brethren," delivered at the Bethany Theological Seminary, October, 1988.

"History of Kelaniya Temple: An Inquiry into Sinhala Political Formation," delivered at the Chicago Anthropological Symposium, April, 1987.

"Picturing the Path: Late Canonical Texts and the Expansion of Early Buddhism," delivered at the Midwest Conference on Asian Affairs, October, 1986


(With John C. Holt and Jacob N. Kinnard, co-editors,) Constituting Communities: Essays on Theravada Traditions in Honor of Frank E. Reynolds (forthcoming)

(with Ronald Inden and Daud Ali), Querying the Medieval: Texts and the History of Practices in South Asia (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000)

Finding Buddhists in Global History (Washington, D.C.: American Historical Association, 1998).

Buried Treasure in Sri Lankan History (Colombo, Sri Lanka: Social Scientists' Association Occasional Papers Series, 1998)

The History of Kelaniya (Colombo: S.S.A, 1996). Sinhala translation in press.

Rethinking Buddhist Missions (Ph.D. Diss, Chicago,-1992)


"Communal Karma and Karmic Community in Theravada Buddhist History," forthcoming in Holt. Kinnard and Walters, eds., Constituting Communities: Essays on Theravada Traditions in Honor of Frank E. Reynolds

"Mapping Sanchi in a Whole Buddhist World," forthcoming in C. Witanachchi, ed., Lily De Silva Felicitation Volume, University Of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka, 2000

"Suttas as History: Four Approaches to the Sermon on the Noble Quest (Ariyapariyesanasutta)," in History of Religions Journal 38,3 (February, 1999): 247-284

"Mahasena at the Mahavihara: The Interpretation and Politics of History in Medieval Sri Lanka," in Daud Ali, ed., Invoking the Past: the Uses of History in South Asia (Oxford, 1999): 322-366.

"Asia in the Age of Buddhist Expansion," in Michael Adas, ed., Global and Comparative History III (Temple, 2000, forthcoming) and already issued as an American Historical Association pamphlet.

"Mahayana Theravada and the Origins of the Mahavihara" in The Sri Lanka Journal of the Humanities, XXIII, Nos. 1 and 2 (1997): 100-119

"Pushing Poson: The Politics of a Buddhist Pilgrimage in Postcolonial Sri Lanka," in Michael Roberts, ed., Sri Lanka: Collective Identities Revisited, Vol. 2 (Colombo: Marga, 1998): 133-162

"Stupa, Story and Empire: Constructions of the Buddha Biography in Early Post-Asokan India," in J. Schober, ed., Sacred Biography in the Buddhist Traditions of South and Southeast Asia (Hawaii, 1997): 160-192

"Multireligion on the Bus in Sri Lanka: Beyond 'Influence' and 'Syncretism' in the Study of Religious Meetings," in Ismail and Jeganathan, eds., Unmaking the Nation (Colombo: S.S.A., 1995):25-54

"A Voice from the Silence: The Buddha's Mother's Story," History of Religions Journal 33,4 (May, 1994): 358-79

"Gotami's Story: Introduction and Translation," in Donald S. Lopez, Jr., ed., Buddhism in Practice (Princeton, 1995):113-38

"Lovely Lady Lanka: A Tenth Century Depiction," in The Sri Lanka Journal of the Humanities XIX, Nos. 1 & 2 (1993, publ. 1995):45-56

"Vibhisana and Vijayanagar: An Essay on Religion and Geopolitics in Medieval Sri Lanka," in The Sri Lanka Journal of the Humanities, Special Jubilee Issue -(1990/1994): 129-42

"The Buddha's Bad Karma: A Problem in the History of Theravada Buddhism," Numen 37,1 (June, 1990):70-95


"Japanese Rise up Against Eppawala Mining," Sunday Times (Colombo) April 23, 2000

"Eppawala: Who Is Behind It?," Sunday Times (Colombo) April 9, 2000

"Tomen Corporation involved in Controversial Sri Lankan Mining Project," interview by Steve Hesse, Japan Times, Tokyo, 25 October 1999

"American Confronts American at Eppawala," interview by Rohan Wijesinghe, The Island, Colombo, Sri Lanka, 11 October 1999

"Eppawala Pospet Nidhiya Vikinima Pitupasa Kapatikamak Tibenewa," interview by Subhash Jayawardana, Irida Peramuna, Colombo, Sri Lanka, 4 July 1999 (in Sinhala)

"Eppawala Pradeshaya Surakshanaya Karamu," presentation and discussion at the Anuradhapura District Lion's Club, Talawa, Sri Lanka, July 1999 (in Sinhala)

"Americans for Eppawala" web site (

"Not in My Back Yard, Either," video documentary, Spring, 1999

"Eppawala: Don't Change this Way of Life," Sunday Times (Colombo) 4 October 1998 and forthcoming in the Farmers' Association Newsletter (Eppawala, in Sinhala)

"The Buddha at Whitman," 1997 Convocation Address, Whitman College, published in Whitman magazine, Winter, 1997: 2-6

"Paw Samwardhana: Voices from a Developing Sri Lankan Village, retold by Nigrodha", Pravada 2, 9 (October/November 1993):19-22.

(with Gunapala Dharmasiri), "God," Encyclopedia of Buddhism, Volume 5, Fascicle 2 (1991):345-47

"Buddhism," Encyclopedia Britannica Annual For 1998: Book of the Year, forthcoming. I contributed this piece yearly since 1995 and, with Frank E. Reynolds, from 1989-1994.

"Sacrificing Rene Girard: Toward a Purposeful Reorientation of Studies in Religion," Critical Theology 3 (Easter, 1990): 23-33

Review of H. L. Seneviratne, The Work of Kings: the New Buddhism of Sri Lanka Forthcoming in Journal of Asian and African Studies (2001)

Review of Joel Tatelman, The Glorious Deeds of Purna: A Translation and Study of The Purnavadana, forthcoming in Journal of Buddhist Ethics (online journal)

Review of Gregory Schopen, Bones, Stones and Buddhist Monks, Forthcoming in History of Religions Journal, 40, 3 (February, 2001)

Review of Donald S. Lopez, Jr., Elaborations on Emptiness: Uses of the Heart Sutra, forthcoming in International Journal Of Hindu Studies, 1998

Review of Paul David Numrich, Old Wisdom in the New World: Americanization in Two Immigrant Theravada Buddhist Temples, in Journal of the American Academy of Religion, XLV, No. 1 (Spring, 1997):235-37

Review of K.N.O. Dharmadasa, Language, Religion and Ethnic Assertiveness: The Growth of Sinhalese Nationalism in Sri Lanka, in Anthropological- Linguistics 33,3 (1994):330-32

Review of R. L. Stirrat, Power and Religiosity in a Post-Colonial Setting: Sinhala Catholics in Contemporary Sri Lanka, in Journal of Religion 74,3 (July, 1994):431-32

Review of Steven Kemper, The Presence of the Past: Chronicles, Politics, and Culture in Sinhala Life, Journal of Religion 73, 3 (July, 1993):450-51

Review of William E. Biernatzki, S.J., Roots of- Acceptance: The Intercultural Communication of Religious Meanings, Journal of Asian Studies (May, 1992):366-67

Review of Gunapala Dharmasiri, Fundamentals of -Buddhist Ethics and id., A Buddhist Critique of the Christian Concept of God, in Journal of Religion 70,3 (July,-1990):497-99

Review of Peter Khoroche, tr., Once the Buddha was a Monkey: Arya Sura's J atakamala, in Chicago South Asia Newsletter 14,2 (March, 1990):8

Review of Richard Gombrich, Theravada Buddhism: A Social History from Ancient Benares to Modern Colombo, Philosophy East and West 40,2 (April, 1990):251-53

Review of Uma Cakravarti, Social Dimensions of Early Buddhism, Journal of Religion 69,4 (October, -1989):592

Palm Leaves and Postcards: Material Culture and Its Representation in Colonial Ceylon. Exhibition and palm-leaf format catalogue (also available on-line: ) Sheehan Gallery, Whitman College, October, -1995

The Buddha's Sermon on the Practice of Loving Kindness, a free verse translation of Karaniyamettasutta published as a contemporary artist's book by Barbara Tetenbaum, Whitman College Book Arts Laboratory, August 1995.

"Appreciating Buddhist Art in the Post-Orientalist Age," and sculpture descriptions in [Walters, Takemoto and Mitchell,] Paths to Enlightenment: Buddhist Art in the Whitman College Collections (Whitman College Gallery Publications,- 1994) plus associated exhibition.