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Publications in VIVO

McGilvray, Dennis B

Professor Emerita/Emeritus


Research Areas research areas


research overview

  • Professor McGilvray's anthropological research focuses on the Tamil-speaking Hindus and Muslims of Sri Lanka and southern India. Since 1969, the agricultural town of Akkaraipattu in eastern Sri Lanka has been his base for ethnographic fieldwork on topics including matrilineal kinship and matrilocal marriage patterns, caste hierarchies and ethnic identity issues, popular Hindu and Muslim religious traditions, gender roles and ethnomedical beliefs, and the impacts of tsunami and civil war on local society. He is also interested in the historical and cultural connections between Sri Lanka and south India, especially coastal Tamilnadu and Kerala, where he has also carried out fieldwork. He is fluent in the local Tamil dialect, and he enjoys using color photography in most of his projects. All of his research addresses larger questions of cultural identity, family structure, social stratification, popular religious devotion, and ethnic conflict within South Asia and beyond.


  • cultural anthropology, social anthropology, ethnography, india, sri lanka, tamil, hindu, hinduism, muslim, caste, kinship,marriage, ethnic conflict, ethnic identity, religion, ritual, gender, photography, artisans, architecture, tsunami, sufism, matrilineal societies, islam


selected publications


International Activities