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Patton Burchett

Associate Professor

Email: [[peburchett]]
Interests: Religions of South Asia; Hindu devotion (Bhakti); Yoga; Tantra; Hindu-Muslim relations; Magic, Science, & Religion; Colonialism; "Spirituality" & Neoliberalism; Religion & Ecology; Contemplative Studies; Religious Nationalisms
Office: Wren 308

Professor Burchett's research focuses on (a) early modern devotional (bhakti) and tantric/yogic religiosity in north India and (b) the interrelations of magic, science, and religion in the rise of Indian and Western modernities.

 His first book is A Genealogy of Devotion: Bhakti, Tantra, Yoga, and Sufism in North India (2019, Columbia University Press).  At this link you can access selections from, and reviews of, his book, along with other of Prof. Burchett’s publications:

 Burchett's current research (second book) project explores how 19th and early 20th century discourse on and representations of the figure of the Indian yogi-fakir reflected and helped to constitute distinctively 'modern' cognitive modes, ethical sensibilities, and conceptual understandings, particularly in relation to rationality, enchantment, and authenticity.

Burchett also holds major research and teaching interests in Contemplative Studies, Religion & Ecology, and Hindu and Christian Nationalisms.  He is a founding member of W&M’s Mind, Brain, & Wellness Seminar and is part of a 6-person interdisciplinary W&M team (of psychologists, neuroscientists, philosophers, and religious studies scholars) who received a grant in 2023 for a collaborative multi-year research project entitled “Unraveling Contemplative Practices: A Holistic Interdisciplinary Approach” to study how "religious" vs. "secular" motivations and outlooks affect the physiological and subjective effects of contemplation and breathing practices. 

Burchett is also a member of W&M’s “Nepal Water Initiative,” an interdisciplinary research effort involving conservation, geospatial, marine and fisheries scientists all studying the water resources of Nepal.  In connection with this initiative, in 2023, Burchett received a major grant for a multi-year research project entitled “Understanding Indigenous Knowledge and the Cultural and Religious Significance of Nature for Integrative, Holistic Water Conservation Strategies in Nepal.”  For this project, he will study cultural and religious dimensions of Nepali peoples' interaction with their natural environment, especially water, in the context of climate change and other anthropogenic threats, all with the aim of empowering Nepali conservation leaders in community-based conservation efforts to protect aquatic biodiversity and promote sustainable livelihoods in Nepal.

  • RELG 213 Introduction to Hinduism
  • RELG 361 Modern Hinduism
  • RELG 362 Magic, Science, & Religion
  • RELG 339 Spiritual But Not Religious
  • RELG 346 Religion and Politics in the U.S. 
  • RELG 364 Yoga & Tantra