Dr. Michelle Folk

Sessional Member of Religious Studies
BA Hons (High Hons.), MA (Regina), PhD (Concordia)

Office: LC 207 (residence building)

Short Bio

Michelle L. Folk received her PhD in religious studies from Concordia University. Her dissertation Ascetics, Devotees, Disciples, and Lords of the Matam: Monasteries in Medieval Tamilnadu examines endowments recorded on the walls of South India’s religious institutions from the ninth to thirteenth century for what epigraphical records reveal about the activities and people associated with matams during this period. Research and teaching interests include asceticism and monasticism, gender and sexualities, narrative, and colonialism in the South Asian context. As a member of the department of gender, religion, and critical studies, she teaches in religious studies at Campion and Luther Colleges at the University of Regina. Her current project examines how ephemera in personal archives reflect colonialist narratives and discourses of Otherness. She is a member of the executive and program co-chair for the Canadian Society for the Study of Religion.

Research Interests

  • Gender and sexualities in South Asia
  • History of religion in South Asia
  • Material culture and religion
  • Monasticism and asceticism

Representative Teaching & Research Presentations and Publications

  • “Why Mementoes Aren’t Just Memories: Ephemera as a Site of Colonialist Narratives on India.” (Social) Media, Music, and Memory panel. Canadian South Asian Studies Association, Virtual Meeting, 2022.
  • “I Never Thought I Wouldn’t Be Back.” Stories From the Pandemic Podium. Impetus: Luther College at the University of Regina Online Magazine. https://impetusedu.wordpress.com/i-never-thought-i-wouldnt-be-back/, Winter 2022.
  • “From Canada to India and Back Again: Reading a Personal Archive for Fragments of Colonialist History.” Constructing Narratives: What Storytelling Through Fiction and Personal Archives Tell Us About Religion and History panel. Canadian Society for the Study of Religion, Virtual Meeting, 2021.
  • “Past, Present, and Future: Religious Studies in Canada – CSSR 50 Years Forward.” Past, Present, and Future: Religious Studies in Canada, CSSR Speaker Series. Canadian Society for the Study of Religion, Virtual Meeting, 2021.
  • “Mapping Medieval Monasteries and Challenging Monasticism’s Ascetic Ideal.” Circles of Current Communications and Discourses in Canadian Studies of Hinduism and Buddhism panel. Canadian Society for the Study of Religion, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, 2019.
  • “Anguish Instead of Delight: The Articulation of Salvation by Tamil Bhaktas.” On Anguish and Delight in Hindu Cosmology panel. Canadian Society for the Study of Religion, University of Regina, Regina, Saskatchewan, 2018.
  • “Both Guru and Goddess: Mata Amritanandamayi of Kerala.” In Women and Religious Traditions, 3rd ed., edited by Pamela Dickey Young and Leona M. Anderson. Oxford University Press, Toronto, Ontario.
  • “Should We ‘Read’ the Writing on the Wall? Approaches to India’s Inscriptions.” Canadian Historical Association, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, 2015.
  • “Identity Construction Through Narrative: A Study of Manikkavacakar’s Tiruvacakam.” Fifth International Workshop on Tamil Epigraphy, Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, University of Paris (Sorbonne), Paris, France, 2008.

Sample Awards

  • India Studies Graduate Research Fellowship, Shastri-Indo Canadian Institute, 2007-2008.