Dr Arkotong Longkumer (PhD)

Lecturer in Religious Studies


My research and teaching interests lie in the intersection between indigenous religions, Hinduism and local Christianities in South and Southeast Asia. I am also interested in theory and method in the study of religions, and its interface between the different disciplines of religious studies, anthropology, and history.



Responsibilities & affiliations

External appointments

Advisory Board:


South Asianist

Undergraduate teaching

Contemporary Hindu Traditions

Religion and Nationalism

Global Religions

Anthropology of Religions and Fieldwork Methods

Religion and Culture

Postgraduate teaching

Theory and Method in the Study of Religions

Contemporary Hindu Traditions

Religion and Nationalism

Research Methods and Fieldwork in Religion

Open to PhD supervision enquiries?


Current PhD students supervised

Liam Sutherland - Scottish nationalism, interfaith, pluralism, securalism

Samantha Bishop - Tantra in the UK, gender, body and the senses

Krittika Bhatarcharjee - Iona, place-making, stories, narratives, specialness

Anja Pogacnik - Jains in Leicester/Jamnagar, diaspora, intergenerational change

Past PhD students supervised

Michael Heneise - Dreams, landscape, Christianity, cosmology, Naga nationalism (Social Anthropology)

Menuo Ao - Indigenous woman writers, gender and national identity (South Asian Studies)

David Robertson - Conspiracy theories of religion, 'new religions' (Religious Studies)

Ethan Quillen - Literature and religion, atheism, Ian McEwan (Religious Studies)

Amidu Elabo - Space, place, Christianity/Islam, interfaith, conflict, Nigeria

Research summary

Indigenous religions, contemporary Hinduism, religious reform movements (especially in South/Southeast Asia), and local Christianities.

Nationalism/transnationalism and religion; globalisation and religion; postcolonial studies (especially identity and performance); and anthropology of religion.

Borderlands and nation-states in South and Southeast Asia amongst highland communities (known as Zomia), especially the Northeast and Nagas of India.

Material culture and its relation to religious practice.  

More information about research projects by Dr Longkumer are available on his Edinburgh Research Explorer profile.


Current research interests

More information about research projects by Dr Longkumer are available on his Edinburgh Research Explorer profile.

Affiliated research centres

Research activities

View all 25 activities on Research Explorer

Project activity

I am working on an interdisciplinary project that investigates the relationship between religion, territory and transnationalism in South Asia and beyond, focused on three specific themes: The relationship between citizenship and religion. The proliferation of religious networks that challenge the territorial limitations of the nation-state. The current global concerns with religion and indigenous peoples, particularly centred on notions of indigenous peoples’ rights, religion, self-determination and human rights.  A major three year project funded by the Norwegian Research Council. https://www.en.uit.no/forskning/forskningsgrupper/gruppe?p_document_id=383890

I am also interested in the relationship between material artefacts/musueums and indigenous communities. Currently, I am investigating the curious 'Gaidinliu Notebooks' housed in the Pitt Rivers Museum (Oxford). Although largely known as 'untranslatable magic books' kept by a young girl of 16 (Gaidinliu) in Northeast India, it was confiscated upon her capture for allegedly disrupting the British Raj by plotting their overthrow. In the past few years, I have been engaged with the Pitt Rivers Museum to take back digital copies of these books to Assam, India where her followers live. I explore aspect of this journey in an article 'Lines that Speak' (https://www.haujournal.org/index.php/hau/article/view/hau6.2.011/2385)

Current project grants

I am currently a British Academy Mid-Career Fellow (2017-18) working on a project entitled "Fractured Landscape: Hindutva, nation and identity in Northeast India". Here's the project abstract:
With the 2014 election of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in India, Hindu nationalism (Hindutva) is on the rise. Like many nationalist movements, Hindutva seeks to promote a singular identity, but one that runs contrary to the aspirations of other groups in India. This project is the first to examine the impact of Hindutva in the sensitive borderlands of Northeast India, an area often considered to be ‘un-Indian’ due to its ethnically diverse population distinct from the rest of India. Firmly rooted in ethnographic research, the study explores four themes: Christianity and representations of patriotism; assimilating indigenous traditions with ‘Hinduism’; secularism and political theology; and ‘place-making’ and national belonging. The project will provide insight into Hindutva’s transformation in this region by broadening our understanding of the ambiguous relationship between religion, culture, and national identity. It will investigate the propagation of Hindu nationalism in the recalcitrant periphery of the Indian state, and its relation to the very concept of ‘India’.

For related published work see The Power of Persuasion (http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/0048721X.2016.1256845?journal...) and Inserting Hindutva (http://www.thehinducentre.com/the-arena/current-issues/article6916230.ece)

View all 15 publications on Research Explorer