Mark McLaughlin is a Senior Lecturer of South Asian Religions. He holds a Ph.D. in Religious Studies with a specialization in South Asian Religions and Sanskrit from the University of California, Santa Barbara.
McLaughlin’s current research utilizes sacred space as a lens to better understand lived religion and its philosophical roots. In this regard, he is interested in notions of presence in sacred space, ritual interaction with space, tomb and relic worship, and sacred architecture as an expression of mythico-historical personality of place. He is currently working on a book project that explores the roots of samādhi (Hindu tomb-shrine) burial practice and the development of samādhi worship traditions through a case study of the samādhi mandir of a the 13th-centruy siddha and Varkari sant, Jñāneśvar Mahārāj in Āḷandī, Maharashtra.
McLaughlin is currently exploring three other directions of research and teaching interest. He has been pioneering the capture and use of 360º video content of sacred space in India to give students an immersive experience of the spaces they are studying by means of Google Cardboard VR headsets (News story about this project here). Additionally, for several years now, McLaughlin has been teaching an experiential course on the biomedicalization of meditation where students practice secular evidence-based meditation techniques while examining the Buddhist and Hindu philosophical perspectives of self that were shaped by these same practices. Lastly, he has been collecting data on the intersectionality of sustainability and religion in India, which he has been engaged with on the ground as the Program Director of the Bengaluru/Goa Summer Abroad Program.
McLaughlin’s current courses include “Introduction to Hinduism,” “Meditation and the Mind,” “Tombs, Temples, and Topography: A Survey of Sacred Space in India,” “Feminine Power and Female Voices in Hindu Traditions,” and “Modern Hinduism.”