Ishita Mahajan (Principal's Career Development Scholarship, Edinburgh Global Research Scholarship)

Thesis title: Narratives and Nationalism: the village-deities of Kullu, India


I was born in the North Indian state of Himachal Pradesh, and grew up in Delhi, NCR. I did my undergraduate and postgraduate studies in Literature and developed interest in Partition Studies, Post-colonial Literature and Translation Studies. I explored these interests while working on my Masters' Dissertation on the idea of obscenity in the works of Amrita Pritam.

After my MA, I worked for three years at the Indian Institute of Technology, Jammu, where I taught English language courses, and interdisciplinary studies informed by Literature, Anthropology and Academic Writing.

I nurtured my interest in Himalayan culture studies and Anthropology of Religion by conducting independent research and presenting my work in conferences till I got the opportunity to pursue a full-time PhD at The University of Edinburgh. 


Winter School on “Performing Religions: Theory and Practice” (February 2020)

Jointly organized by Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi, University of Groningen and Frobenius Institute, Goethe University of Frankfurt


M.A. in  Literature (2017)

Shiv Nadar University, Greater Noida, India


B.A. (Hons) in English Literature (2015)

Lady Shri Ram College for Women, University of Delhi, India

Responsibilities & affiliations

Treasurer, New College Postgraduate Committee,  School of Divinity, University of Edinburgh  (2021-2022)

Undergraduate teaching


Buddhism in Global Contexts (2023)

Global Indigenous Religions (2024) 

Research summary

I am interested in the anthropology of religion, particularly around questions of identity and its expression in everyday life. My current research in based in the Kullu district of the North Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. I am looking at identity and nationalism with respect to the indigenous deity traditions of the region. 

Current research interests

Deities in Himachal Pradesh (India), Indigenous religions in the Himalayas, Himalayan culture studies, Religion and Nationalism, Hindutva and its articulations, religion and transnationalism, Hinduism and Buddhism.

Past research interests

Literatures in South Asia Partition studies, South Asia Progressive Writers' Movement, India Literary depictions of Hindustani Classical Music

Affiliated research centres

Conference details

  • American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting 2023 in San Antonio, Texas, USA (November 2023)
  • 27th European Conference for South Asian Studies (ECSAS 2023) at the University of Turin, Italy (July 2023)
  • British Sociological Association (BSA) Sociology of Religion (SocRel) Annual Conference 2023 at the University of Bristol, United Kingdom (July 2023)
  • British Association of South Asian Studies (BASAS),  Annual Conference 2023, at the University of Leeds, United Kingdom (April 2023)
  • The Second LERU Doctoral Seminar in Theology and Religious Studies at Lund University, Sweden (August 2022)
  • Joint Religious Studies Seminar at School of Divinity, University of Edinburgh (January 2022)
  • International Conference on “Reimagining India: Religion, Identity and Nationalism in India” by Centre for the Study of Religion and Politics, University of St. Andrews, United Kingdom, and Scholars at the Peripheries (August 2021)
  • XVI National Conference 2020, Indian Association of Women’s Studies, Delhi, India (January 2020)
  • International Conference on "Multiple Selves in Multiple Texts", at Central University Jammu, India (November 2019)


Centre for South Asian Studies, Work-In-Progress Seminar, 2-3 May May 2023, The University of Edinburgh 

The Land of Gods: Exploring Converging Agencies in the Deity Institution of Kullu, India

Mahajan, Ishita. "The Land of Gods: Exploring Converging Agencies in the Deity Institution of Kullu, India", Contributions to Indian Sociology, 57(1-2) (2023): 44-63.


Sanctum Sensorium: the travelling deities of the Kullu Valley, India

Mahajan, Ishita. “Sanctum Sensorium: the travelling deities of the Kullu Valley, India”, The Highlander Journal, Volume 2 (2022): 1-11.  ISSN 2632-0541 (Online), The Highland Institute.


Book Review, The Greater India Experiment: Hindutva and the Northeast

Mahajan, Ishita. “The Greater India Experiment: Hindutva and the Northeast: By Arkotong Longkumer, Stanford, Stanford University Press, 2021, ISBN 978-1-50-361422-2.” Contemporary South Asia 29, no. 2 (2021): 299–300.


Gods Not Allowed: Restrictions and Repentance in International Kullu Dussehra 2020

Mahajan, Ishita. “Gods Not Allowed: Restrictions and Repentance in International Kullu Dussehra 2020”, coronAsur – A Research blog, National University Singapore, (2021).