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Vera Lazzaretti

Vera Lazzaretti
Vera Lazzaretti holds a Ph.D. in Euro-Asian Studies (section of Indology). Her work explores transformations of religious heritage (places and practices) in urban contexts of North India by drawing on the anthropology of space and place, and on critical approaches to cultural heritage. Her other research interests include the representation of space in indigenous visual production (pictorial maps, literary cartography and illuminated manuscripts), the evolution of the concept of tīrtha and of water places, as well as the nexus between experience and representation in ethnographic theories and practices. From 2013 to 2015 she taught the workshop series “Paths in Indian sacred geography: places and traditions” for undergraduate and graduate students of Humanities at this university. As a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Milan she worked on the evolution and transformation of local urban pilgrimages in Vārāṇasī. During 2015 and 2016 she has been a DAAD visiting scholar at the South Asia Institute, Heidelberg, where she has been collaborating with the research group on “Changing Sacred Waterscape” within the Cluster of Excellence Asia and Europe at the University of Heidelberg. Vera joined the University of Oslo in October 2017 as a post-doctoral fellow and member of the "Indian Cosmopolitan Alternatives" project.

Current projects

From 2017: "The burden of security: Exploring spatial regulation of religious offence and the geographies of enforcement" — University of Oslo.
Dal 2015 al 2017: “Dynamics of formation, development and change to local urban pilgrimages in Vārāṇasī” — Università degli Studi di Milano.
Dal 2016: “The production of heritage and its boundaries. Rethinking space and practices in a controversial religious compound: perspectives from Jñānavāpī in Banaras” — South Asia Institute, Heidelberg.
Dal 2016: “A pilgrimage scroll (tīrthapaṭṭa) from Rajasthan: visual journeys and confluences of devotion at the three cities of Gayā, Kāśī and Prayāg” — collaboration with the Universities of Würzburg and Heidelberg.

Education and Research background

Degree in Philosophy (BA) at the Università degli Studi di Milano, with a dissertation in Cultural Anthropology (Supervisor: Prof. Stefano Allovio)
Masters Degree in Philosophy (MA) at the Università degli Studi di Milano, with a dissertation in Indology (Supervisor Prof. Davide Bigalli and Prof. Cinzia Pieruccini)
Hindi Certificate Diploma at the Central Hindi Directorate of New Delhi.
Research Scholarship of the Cariplo Foundation and the Università degli Studi di Milano.
Project: “History and mythological transmission in the temple of Gaurī Kedāreśvar in Vārāṇasī” Supervisors: Prof. Rana P.B. Singh (Banaras Hindu University), Prof. Cinzia Pieruccini (Università degli Studi di Milano), Prof. Om Prakash Sharma (Swedish Study Center for Indian Culture)
Ph. D. scholarship at the Euro-Asian Studies (section of Indology) of the Università degli Studi di Torino
Thesis title: “When the copy darkens the model. Study on spatial transposition and Banāras: the case of jyotirliṅgas”. The thesis was successfully defended in front of the National Committee on 29th May 2013.
Project details: The project dealt with the construction of traditions in a group of temples in Banaras. These are the ‘duplicated’ sites of the pan-Indian jyotirliṅgas. It developed through a multi-disciplinar methodology which comprises the analysis of textual (glorification literature) and visual (pictorial maps and religious cartography) sources and ethnographic fieldwork in the contemporary shrines. The results of this project illustrate the dynamics of authentication of local shrines and the contribution of locality to the transformation of traditions, as well as outlining changes to the practice of local pilgrimage in this urban context.
Tutors: Prof. Giuliano Boccali and Prof. Cinzia Pieruccini, Università degli Studi di Milano
Examiners: Prof. Raffaele Torella (Sapienza - Università di Roma), Prof. Pinuccia Caracchi (Università degli Studi di Torino), Prof. Saverio Marchignoli (Università degli Studi di Bologna).


  • “Waterscapes in transition: past and present reshape of sacred water places in Banaras”, in Baghel R., Hill J. and Stepan L. eds., Epistemologies of Water in Asia, Routledge, New Delhi/New York/London (2017), pp. 230-245.
  • “Questioning meaningful layers of locality in a pan-Indian tirtha”, in Cracow Indological Studies, vol. 17, (2016), pp. 119-144.
  • “Varanasi”, Le città letterarie, UNICOPLI, Milano (2016).
  • “Tradition versus urban public bureaucracy? Reshaping pilgrimage routes and religious heritage around contested places”, in Narayanan Y. ed., Religion and Urbanism: Reconceptualising 'Sustainable Cities' for South Asia, Routledge, New Delhi/New York/London (2015).
  • "Considerazioni antropologiche sulla trasposizione spaziale: voci e strategie di Kedār ji, un jyotirliṅga di Vārāṇasī", in Angelillo, M., a cura di, Lo spazio dell'India. Luoghi, collocazioni, orientamenti e trasposizioni. Supplemento monografico di Quaderni Asiatici 104 (2013), pp. 99-138.
  • "Banaras jyotirlingas: constitution and transformations of a transposed divine group and its pilgrimage”, in Kervan, International Journal of Afro-Asian Studies, edited by the University of Turin and Enna, N. 17, (2013).
  • “Constructing the eternal city of light through history and society: evolution of the image of Kashi in the Eighteenth-Twentieth century picture maps”, in Cracow Indological Studies, vol. 14, Part One, (2013), pp. 35-60.
  • “Repetition and adaptation: narrative style of the Kāśīkedāramāhātmya”, in Proceedings of Gargnano Seminar "Stylistic devices in Indian literature and art" (16-18 September 2010, Gargnano), ed. by G. Boccali e E. Mucciarelli, Quaderni di Acme, Università degli Studi di Milano, (2013), pp. 145-158.
  • Review of Michael S. Dodson, (ed.), Banaras. Urban Forms and Cultural Histories, Routledge, New Delhi and Abingdon, 2012, pp. 251, 50 plates, ISBN: 978-0-415-69377-6, in Kervan, International Journal of Afro-Asian Studies, edited by the University of Turin and Enna, N. 16, (2012), pp. 78-83.
  • “Transposed sacred places in Vārāṇasī: connecting local sites to pan-Indian places of pilgrimage”, in Proceedings of the first TOCOCU Biannual Conference (9-12 September 2010, Lisbon) TOCOCU (2010).
  • “Parvati: ascetismo, vita nel mondo e altri aspetti della sposa di Shiva”, in Quaderni Asiatici 82, (2008), pp. 57-70.