Rupa Pillai

Senior Lecturer
  • B.A., University of Texas at Austin, Asian Studies and Anthropology
  • M.A., University of Chicago, Social Sciences
  • Ph.D., University of Oregon, Anthropology

Rupa Pillai is a senior lecturer of Asian American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. Trained as a cultural anthropologist, she is interested in the intersection of race, religion, and migration. Her dissertation, Caribbean Hinduism on the Move, is the culmination of 15 months of ethnographic fieldwork with the growing Indo-Caribbean American community in New York City. Through this research, she explores how this community adapts and mobilizes Hinduism in this second migration, first from the Indian subcontinent and second from the Caribbean, to carve a space for themselves within the social landscape of New York City. Before joining ASAM, she taught at Brandeis University and Tufts University.


Research Interests

Race & Ethnicity; Religion; Diaspora, Transnationalism, & Migration; Asian American Studies; Colonialism & Postcolonialism; Indenture; Gender & Sexuality; Urban Studies; Feminist & Queer Theory

Selected Publications

Courses Taught

  • Introduction to Asian American Studies

  • Asian American Religions

  • The Asian Caribbean

  • Asian American Gender and Sexualities


  • American Academy of Religion (Steering Committee Member, Asian North American Religion, Culture, and Society Unit; Co-Chair, Religion and Cities Unit)
  • American Anthropological Association
  • Association for Asian American Studies
  • Caribbean Studies Association
  • Center for the Study of Religion and the City (Advisory Board Member)