Meet the Professors!

Our Professors

Dr. Amy Allocco

Amy in USA

Professor Amy Allocco has two decades of experience in South India, where she traveled first for a semester-long study abroad course as an undergraduate at Colgate University in 1995. She holds a Master’s of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School and earned her PhD from Emory University’s Program in West & South Asian Religions. Professor Allocco joined the faculty at Elon in 2009 and was subsequently appointed the University’s Distinguished Emerging Scholar in Religious Studies. The 2012 recipient of the Elon College of Arts and Science’s Excellence in Teaching Award, Professor Allocco lives on campus at Elon as the Faculty Director for the Global Neighborhood.

Professor Allocco’s research focuses on vernacular Hinduism, especially contemporary Hindu ritual traditions and women’s religious practices in South India. Trained both as an ethnographer of South Asian religions and in approaches to Hindu textual traditions, she has developed specializations in performance and ritual studies as well as gender and religion. The author of several book chapters and journal articles, Professor Allocco received the Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion’s New Scholar Award for an article about a female Hindu healer that she the journal published in its Fall 2013 issue. She is currently completing her first book, which analyzes contemporary snake goddess traditions in South India and the rituals performed to relieve naga dosham (snake blemish), a negative astrological condition that is believed to cause delayed marriage and infertility. Amy in INDIA

She and Professor Pennington have co-taught study abroad courses in South India twice before and have published together about the rigors and rewards of this team-taught course: Professor Allocco is also looking ahead to summer 2015, when she expects to begin a six-month stay in South India: she has recently been awarded fellowship support to carry out the ethnographic fieldwork for a new research project focused on Hindu ritual transactions with spirits of the dead and will be on sabbatical for the 2015-16 academic year.

Read more about Professor Allocco here:



Dr. Brian Pennington

510 headshot

Professor Brian Pennington first studied in India as a student in 1993 and he has traveled there approximately 20 times since for research or teaching. He received his bachelors degree in Theology from Georgetown University and his Master’s and Doctoral degrees in Religious Studies from Emory University. For 16 years he taught courses on religion and South Asia at Maryville College, where he eventually served as Chair of the Division of Humanities. In August 2014 he was named the Director of the Elon Center for the Study of Religion, Culture and Society, where he now directs faculty and undergraduate interdisciplinary research on the role of religion in society.

Dr. Pennington is currently working on a book on religious entrepreneurialism in the Indian state of Uttarakhand, located in the Himalayan Mountains of North India, where he has conducted research since 2003. This region has seen rapid development since the turn of the millennium as a result of expanding Hindu pilgrimage, hydroelectric construction, and an expanding infrastructure. It is currently suffering the effects of climate change and natural disaster afflicting these high altitude regions. His work studies how Hindu religious practices help negotiate these changes. He has authored or edited 2 other books and numerous articles on Indian religion. His first book, Was Hinduism Invented?: Britons, Indians, and the Colonial Construction of Religion, investigates Hindu/Christian contact in the British Raj. His 2012 Teaching Religion and Violence is a sourcebook for college instructors on teaching about interreligious conflict.BKP UKashi head

Dr. Pennington is a strong advocate for education abroad, and this is the sixth course to South Asia he has helped lead. Although a scholar of the religious traditions of North India, he is married to Amy Allocco, a specialist on the ritual lives of Hindu women in South India who first introduced him to the south and happens, by chance, to serve as co-leader on this course. They have co-taught study abroad courses in South India twice before and have published together about the rigors and rewards of this team-taught course:



One thought on “Meet the Professors!

  1. Kathie Shiba

    I am looking forward to reading your blog and experiencing India through the eyes of your students. You both are fantastic teachers and I know it will be a great adventure! Congratulations!



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