Nicholas Witkowski

Assistant Professor, Theology and Religious Studies, University of San Diego
PhD, Department of Religious Studies, Stanford University
Graduation Year
Dissertation Title
"The Ascetic Lifestyle in the Early Indian Buddhist Monastery: A Study of the Dhutaguna Practices in the Vinaya Tradition"
head shot of Nicholas Witkowski

Nicholas Witkowski received his PhD in 2015 in the Department of Religious Studies at Stanford University. His dissertation is a social history of subaltern ascetic practices in the Buddhist monastic institutions of first millennium South Asia. Before joining the University of San Diego in August of 2022 as Assistant Professor of Buddhist Studies and South Asian religions, Dr. Witkowski was Assistant Professor of South Asian History at Nanyang Technological University of Singapore (2018-2022). Dr. Witkowski was also a JSPS Postdoctoral research fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia at Tokyo University (IAS), where he completed a two year project studying the representations of subaltern communities within South Asian legal traditions (2015–2017).

Dr. Witkowski’s current project, Lifestyles of Impurity, is a study of low-/outcaste communities in first millennium South Asia that employs the theoretical armature of historians of the everyday. This will be the first book-length academic project that integrates feminist, Marxist, post-colonialist and Foucauldian literary critical approaches to the study textual sources documenting the socio-religious practices of low-/outcaste communities. What Dr. Witkowski hopes to convey is a nuanced articulation of the social locations of marginality as wellsprings of cultural innovation that continued to resist, challenge, and, in certain key respects, transform Brahmanical imperial discourse and practice across the Sanskrit cosmopolis throughout the first millennium CE.