Nika Kuchuk (nika.kuchuk @ mail.utoronto.ca) is currently a doctoral student at the department of Religion, also affiliated with the Centre for South Asian Studies. She had completed her BA Honours in Psychology and MA in Religious Studies at the University of Ottawa. Her research interests follow a trajectory of a multilingual, expatriate upbringing and a long-standing interest in intellectual histories, philosophy, modernity, and theories of the self, leading her to focus on transnational religion, particularly in the context of the intellectual and socio-political exchange between India and Europe.
Nika’s proposed dissertation project investigates a fecund yet little-explored chapter of this exchange, by exploring the role of three Western women who had become prominent religious figures in modern Vedantic movements (1870-1940), and whose life and works at the confluence of empire, counter-culture, activism, and mysticism continue to shape religious and socio-political realities even today. She is particularly interested in the ways in which the legacies of their influence expose complex structures of translation and appropriation, the formation of religious and political identities, and networks of power and knowledge-production.
Her past work similarly focused on syncretic spiritualities, and for her MA thesis Nika explored the cult and mythos of the Hindu goddess Kālī both in her Indic and Western contexts, focusing in particular on Western appropriations of Kālī within North American feminist goddess spirituality. As a secondary field of interest, she had studied Jainism and especially the place of goddess worship in contemporary Jain practice.
Nika can be reached at email@example.com
Some areas of interest:
Transnational religion, diasporas, syncretism, identity politics, colonial histories
History of ideas, translation theory, modernity studies
Women and gender
Indic Goddess, Śaktism, Kālī practice, Western feminist spirituality
Embodiment, experience, ways of knowing, body praxis, aesthetics
Personal religion, arts of the self, mythopraxis
(Currently in progress) Ph.D., Religion. University of Toronto. Advisors: Dr. Arti Dhand, Dr. Srilata Raman.
2012. M.A., Religious Studies. University of Ottawa. Thesis title: “From the Temple to the Witch’s Coven: Journeying West with Kali Ma, Fierce Goddess of Transformation. A Study of Contemporary Kali worship in North America: Syncretism, Sacred Relationships, and the Gendered Divine.” Advisor: Dr. Anne Vallely.
2009. B.A. Honours, Specialization in Psychology, Minor Philosophy. University of Ottawa. Undergraduate thesis project subject: “Mythic Narrative and the Genesis of Identity,” Advisor: Dr. Claude Lamontagne.