Rick Weiss

Teaching in 2020


PhD (Chicago)

Research specialties

Rick specialises in South Asian religious cultures and history, especially in Tamil South India. His first book was on the intersection of healing, science, and community in the defence of siddha medicine, a traditional medical system of South India. He has just finished a book project on religious change in nineteenth-century India, with attention to the role of vernacular, local traditions in the emergence of modern Hinduism. His current project is on the impact of print technology on religion in colonial India. The project focusses on the material, literary and polemical dimensions of Tamil Shaiva books published in the 1850s and 1860s.

Current research projects

  • Vernacular traditions and modern Hinduism
  • Ramalinga Swami
  • Tamil Shaivism
  • Print and religion in South Asia

Selected publications


Weiss, R. S. (2019). The Emergence of Modern Hinduism: Religion on the Margins of Colonialism. Berkeley, University of California Press

Weiss, R. S.  (2009). Recipes for Immortality: Healing, Religion, and Community in South India. New York: Oxford University Press

Journal articles

Weiss, R. S. (2018). Voluntary Associations and Religious Change in Colonial India: Ramalinga Adigal’s ‘Society of the True Path.’ South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies, 41(1): 18-32

Weiss, R. S. (2016). Religion and the Emergence of Print in Colonial India: Arumuga Navalar's Publishing ProjectIndian Economic and Social History Review, 53(4): 473-500.

Weiss, R. S. (2016). Accounting for Religious Change: Ramalinga's Transformation of Hindu Giving in Nineteenth-Century IndiaHistory of Religions, 56(1): 108-138.

Weiss, R. S. (2015). Print, Religion and Canon in Colonial India: The Publication of Ramalinga Adigal's TiruvarutpaModern Asian Studies, 49(3): 650-677. DOI:10.1017/S0026749X13000760

A full list of Rick's publications is available here

Public Engagement

Weiss, R. (2019). Modi, Hindu nationalism, and the 2019 Indian general election, Asia Media Centre, May 20

Schonthal, B., Weiss, R., & Hattotuwa, S. (2019). Expert reaction: Sri Lanka Easter Sunday bombings, Asia Media Centre, April 23

Administrative responsibilities

  • Chief Editor, New Zealand Journal of Asian Studies
  • Executive Board, New Zealand Asian Studies Society
  • School of Social and Cultural Studies Research Committee
  • Organiser of the NZASIA 23rd Biennial International 2019 Conference


  • Royal Society of New Zealand Marsden Fast-Start Research Award, 2010: Transforming Hinduism: Religious change in Colonial India

Teaching in 2020