Assistant Professor of Jainism and Comparative Spiritualities
Venu Mehta is a scholar of Jainism. Her present research focuses on the devotional practices, literature, and iconography of the Jaina Goddess Padmāvatī, with special attention to vernacular and regional forms of devotion and goddesses in Jainism. Her areas of scholarship in Jain Studies include Jain religious diaspora and sectarian negotiations in the USA, Jainism and ecology, Jain bhakti literature and practices in Gujarat, Jaina theory of Anekāntavāda, and Jaina notion of forgiveness.
She completed her second M.A. in Religious Studies with a particular focus on Jainism at Florida International University. Her M.A. thesis, titled “An Ethnographic Study of Sectarian Negotiations among Diaspora Jains in the USA,” is an ethnographic and anthropological study of the Jain communities in the diasporic context. She explored Jain temples and communities and identified sectarian negotiations, the invention of a new form of Jainism, and the creation of a common Jain identity as the practices of the Jains in the USA. Her research emphasizes the Jain immigrants’ process of creating a common ‘Jain’ identity through sectarian negotiations.
Her research interest includes Indian religions, languages, cultural/folk traditions, and South Asian religious art forms. She adds a new dimension to her academic world by including Digital Humanities to present her research and teaching. Dr. Mehta was a Fulbright Fellow (FLTA) at Indiana University, Bloomington, in 2010-11 and taught Gujarati as a foreign language. In addition, she has developed pedagogical materials and a curriculum for teaching the Gujarati language to non-native speakers.
Her academic background, including research and training in education and literature, led to her first Ph.D. in multiculturalism and literature education. In her first Ph.D. project, she focused on developing theory, methods, and in-class materials to orient learners towards multiculturalism using literature at the higher secondary level.
BA, Bhavnagar University
BEd, Bhavnagar University
MA, Bhavnagar University
MA, Florida International University
PhD, Sardar Patel University
PhD, University of Florida (in process)
Mehta, Venu. “Sectarian Negotiations among the Jains in the USA: A Special Focus on the Ritual and Visual Culture”. World Religions in the United States: Tracing the Migrations of Religions to the United States (Tentative title). Cognella Academic Publishing. (forthcoming/accepted for publication Fall 2021).
Mehta, Venu. 2018. “Anekantavada: The Jaina Epistemology.” In Bernd Reiter (Ed.), Constructing the Pluriverse: The Geopolitics of Knowledge. Durham: Duke University Press. pp. 259-279.
Mehta. Venu. 2017. “Jainism, Ecology and Ethics.” In Alex, Rayson K., S. Susan Deborah, Reena Cheruvalath, & Gyan Prakash (Eds), Ecocultural Ethics: Critical Essays, Lexington Books. (Ecocritical Theory and Practice). pp. 171-184.
Mehta, Venu. 2016. Learn Gujarati, A Resource – Book for Global Gujaratis, Beginner’s Level. Charotar University of Science and Technology: India. (ISBN 978 – 81 – 932056 – 0 – 0).
Mehta, Venu. 2015. “Diversity and Higher Education: Towards a Promising Development Condition.” University News. India: Association of Indian University, 53(12) March 23-29, 2015. ISSN: 0566- 2257. pp. 16-19.
Mehta, Venu. 2013. Multiculturalism and Globalization: Literature, Society, Education. Prestige Books International Publishing: Sydney. (ISBN 978-93-82186-23-6).
Literature of South Asian Diaspora. 2014. Eds. Dr. Venu Mehta & Dr. R K Dhawan. Prestige Books International Publishing: India‐Sydney. (ISBN 9789382186403).
Mehta, Venu. 2013. Literature oriented Multicultural Education in India: the folklore Fiesta and Children’s Experience with a Task-Based Folklore Lesson.” Multicultural Education. USA: Caddo Gap Press. (20th Anniversary Issue). Volume 20, Number 3&4. Spring/Summer 2013. ISSN: 1068‐3844. pp.104-109.
Mehta, Venu. 2013. “Thinking Culture in a Language Classroom: Teaching Gujarati as a Foreign Language.” Language and Language Teaching. Azim Premji University & Vidya Bhavan Society, Udaipur. Volume I (original volume 2) Number 1. January 2013. ISSN 2277‐307X. pp. 23-27.