Harshita Mruthinti Kamath earned her B.A. from Emory University, Masters in Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School, and Ph.D. from Emory University. Her research focuses on the textual and performance traditions of the South Indian language of Telugu in conversation with theoretical discourses on gender and sexuality in South Asia.
Dr. Kamath's monograph, Impersonations: The Artifice of Brahmin Masculinity in Kuchipudi Dance (University of California Press, 2019), centers on an insular community of Smarta brahmin male dancers from the Kuchipudi village in Telugu-speaking South India who are required to don stri-vesam (woman's guise) and impersonate female characters from Hindu religious narratives. Shifting across village, urban and transnational spaces, the book shows how normative ideals of gender, caste and sexuality are maintained through the embodied practice of impersonation among Kuchipudi brahmin male dancers. The book is available through Luminos, University of California Press's Open Access publishing program:
Dr. Kamath has also completed the first English-language translation of the sixteenth-century classical Telugu text Parijatapaharanamu in consultation with Telugu scholar Velcheru Narayana Rao, retired professor of the Department of Middle Eastern and South Asian Studies at Emory who was the first to hold the endowed Koppaka Professorship in 2015. The translation, titled Theft of a Tree, is forthcoming as part of the Murty Classical Library of India published by Harvard University Press.
Dr. Kamath's next research project focuses on the padams (short lyrical songs) of fifteenth-century Telugu poet Annamayya. Dr. Kamath's research has been supported by grants from the American Institute of Indian Studies, Fulbright-Hays, and American Association of University Women. Before coming to Emory, Dr. Kamath was Assistant Professor of Religion at Middlebury College and Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at UNC-Chapel Hill.