I’m a graduate student in the Department of Asian Studies at Cornell University, where I am a member of the South and Southeast Asia Area Programmes. I am also a research associate in Religious Studies at Victoria University of Wellington. You can find me on Twitter, or contact me by email at brunomshirley [at] gmail [dot] com.
I study changing ideas and practices of Buddhist sovereignty, mainly in second millennium Lanka but with connections to South India and Southeast Asia. I’m particularly interested in the relationship(s) between sovereigns and monastic institutions; texts about and inscribed in royal/religious landscapes; and gendered performances of both kingship and monastic propriety. I’m convinced that the intellectual history of Buddhist sovereignty is far more nuanced, less stable and less androcentric than our textual sources alone might suggest, and that by considering a wider variety of evidence we can better see the cracks and fissures between competing visions of sovereignty. In particular, I’m interested in the physical space of the Buddhist kingdom, and how exactly landscape interventions can “make manifest royal splendour” (rājalakkhiṃ vijambhitum; Mahāvaṃsa 73:55-56).
I’m also passionate about making digital tools feel more accessible to scholars in the humanities. I’ve been recently focused on map-making (with open-source software, minimal technical skills and zero graphic design talent), largely because my own dissertation has ended up with such a strong spatial focus. I sometimes tweet mini-tutorials for people who, like me, are getting sick of screenshotting and doodling over modern maps, and I’ve archived some of those tweets here in case you’d like to read them in more than 240 characters at a time.