WSRP Research Associate 2021–22
Buena Vista University
The Freedom to Always Love: Interweaving Sustainability, Spirituality, and Sarvodaya
Since 1959, the Brahma Vidya Mandir Ashram in Maharashtra has been home to a community of women who model wholistic ecofeminism grounded in Indian Dharmic traditions. Followers of Vinoba Bhave (1895–1982), disciple, friend, confidant, and spiritual successor to MK Gandhi, their lives and voices expand the diversity of perspectives and approaches in ecofeminism and religious studies. Based on a lifetime of contact with the ashram and extensive interviews conducted with 17 of the sisters from 2006–11, this project views their work through the lens of applied ethics.
Swasti Bhattacharyya is professor emeritus of philosophy and religion at Buena Vista University. During her last year, she served as director of Gender & Women’s Studies as well as the Study Abroad program. She has taught courses in various world religions, applied ethics, and nonviolence, peace, and justice.
Her current long-term ethnographic project, “The Long View,” explores how current generations are living out Gandhi and Vinoba Bhave’s (Gandhi’s disciple, friend, confidant, and spiritual successor) commitments to peace and nonviolence. Her latest publication, "Shiva’s Babies: Hindu Perspectives on the Treatment of High Risk Newborn Infants" in Religion and Ethics in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (Oxford University Press, 2019) and her book Magical Progeny, Modern Technology (State University of New York Press, 2006) combine her experiences as a registered nurse with her expertise in ethics and the study of religion.
Dr. Bhattacharyya also serves on the American Academy of Religion’s Committee on the Status of Racial and Ethnic Minorities in the Profession and on the board of the Peace and Justice Studies Association.
Ecofeminism, Religion, and Ethics: Reorienting Our Lives