Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
Wheaton College


Bruce Owens

Bruce Owens

Associate Professor of Anthropology, Acting Chair of Anthropology Dept.
Co-Coordinator, Wheaton/Royal Thimphu College Partnership Program

Ph.D., M. Phil., M.A., Columbia University
B.A., McGill University

Research Interests

Politics of ritual, sacrifice, religion and the state; hermeneutic contestation; social and cultural theory; transformations of sacred spaces; monumentality, identity, and material culture; Nepal, Himalaya, South Asia

Teaching Interests

Anthropology of Art, South Asia, Theory in Anthropology, Religion, Psychological Anthropology, Festivals, Human Evolution, Introduction to Cultural Anthropology, Anthropology of the Himalaya


“Innovation in Traditions of Transformation: A Preliminary Survey of the Bāhās and Bahīs of the Kathmandu Valley,” South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies. 37:1, 2014, pp. 130-155.

"Accounting for Ritual in the Kathmandu Valley,” In Lewis, Todd and Bruce McCoy Owens (eds.), Sucāruvādadeśika: a Festschrift Honoring Professor Theodore Riccardi, Jr., Kathmandu: Himal Books, 2014.

Sucāruvādadeśika: a Festschrift Honoring Professor Theodore Riccardi, Jr., (co-edited with Todd Lewis) Kathmandu: Himal Books, 2014


“Silent Monarchy, Ambivalent Citizens,” Himāl Southasian, 21(7), 2008, pp.38-39.

“Pilgrim’s Progress,” Nepali Times, No. 157 (August 8, 2003), http://nepalitimes.com/news.php?id=3564#.UssS_rRjKwk

"Monumentality, Identity, and the State: Local Practice, World Heritage, and Heterotopia at Swayambhu, Nepal," Anthropological Quarterly, 75:2, 2002, pp. 269-316.

"Personal Theory: Towards a satisfactory explanation for why I study Newar culture; or, Dyah Wa? ("God Crazy")," Newah Vijnana, The Journal of Newar Studies, vol. 4, 2000/01, pp. 1-21.

"Envisioning Identity: Deity, Person, and Practice in the Kathmandu Valley," American Ethnologist, 27:3, 2000, pp. 702-735.

"Unruly Readings: Neofetishes, Paradoxical Singularities, and the Violence of Authentic Value," Ethnos, vol. 64:2, 1999, pp. 250-262.

"Human Agency and Divine Power: Transforming Images and Recreating Gods among the Newar," History of Religions, 34(3), 1995, pp. 201-240

"Blood and Bodhisattvas: Sacrifice among the Newar Buddhists of Nepal," In Ramble, Chalrles and Martin Brauen, (eds.).The Anthropology of Tibet and the Himalayas, University of Zurich, (Zurich: 1993), pp. 258-269.

Student Projects

I have been collaborating with students (Maura Mae Deedy ('03)Christopher O'Keeffe ('05), Tenzing Norzom ('05), Delilah Griswold ('08) and Nurit Applbaum ('14)) in creating a digital archive and web-site on the recent transformations of one of Nepal's most significant Buddhist sites, Swayambhu. I have also collaborated with Kerry Teamey ('04) on the sacred sites project and long term research that I have been conducting on religious festivity in the Kathmandu Valley.

During the summer of 2006, I accompanied a group of students and Prof. Jeffrey Timm of the Religion Department on a study tour of Bhutan as part of his Engaged Buddhism Course, and in the Fall of 2009 I went with Prof. Bianca Cody-Murphy to Bhutan to help set up the Wheaton/Royal Thimphu College Partnership, and remain, with her, a co-coordinator of the program .

I was Resident Director of the Wheaton/Royal Thimphu College Partnership Program at Royal Thimphu College for Bhutan IV during the Spring semester of 2013.