Catherine Becker

Assistant Professor 



Ph.D.  University of California, Berkeley, History of Art, December 2006
“Artistic Production and Ritual Performance at Amaravati and other Buddhist stupas of Andhra Pradesh”

M.A.   University of California, Berkeley, History of Art, December 2000
Thesis: “Innovative Imagery: An Analysis of the Theriomorphic Varaha at Eran”

B.A. University of California, Los Angeles, Art History, June 1996 
Summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa

Research and Teaching Interests

My research and teaching focus on the art and architecture of South Asia.  I investigate how objects, images, and monuments shape our worlds and mediate a range of social interactions.  My work explores how people employ imagery not only to understand challenging ontological questions about the interaction between humans and the divine, but also to forge connections between groups of humans across geographic and temporal boundaries.  My first book, Shifting Stones, Shaping the Past: Sculpture from the Buddhist Stupas of Andhra Pradesh, investigates the production and use of Buddhist art in the modern-day Indian states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana from the early centuries of the Common Era to the present.  Expanding the work of this book, I have begun to investigate artistic connections between Buddhist communities in Andhra and Sri Lanka during the third and fourth centuries BCE.  In my second book-length project, I analyze India’s son-et-lumière shows, which juxtapose the monuments of India’s past with markers of modernity, such as electricity and Bollywood showmanship. I teach the arts of Asia broadly, but with special attention to a range of themes and subjects drawn from my research interests, including the ritual animation of images, visual story-telling practices, colossi, popular religious imagery, and the reuse of objects from the past in the present.


Selected Publications

Shifting Stones, Shaping the Past: Sculpture from the Buddhist Stūpas of Andhra Pradesh, (New York: Oxford University Press, 2015).

“Not Your Average Boar: The Colossal Varaha at Eran, an Iconographic Innovation,” Artibus Asiae 70.1 (2010): 123-149.

“Remembering the Amaravati Stupa: The Revival of a ‘Ruin.”’  In Buddhist Stupas in South Asia: Recent Archaeological, Art-Historical and Historical Perspectives, edited by Jason Hawkes and Akira Shimada (London and Delhi: School of Oriental and African Studies (University of London) South Asia Series and Oxford University Press, 2009): 267-287.

Selected Awards and Honors

American Institute for Sri Lankan Studies
Research Fellowship, 2015-16

University of Illinois at Chicago
Institute for the Humanities, Faculty Fellow, 2011-12

Harvard University
Post-doctoral Fellow, South Asia Initiative, 2008-09

American Institute of Indian Studies
Junior Research Fellowship, 2002-2003

University of California, Berkeley
Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor Award, 2003-04
Teaching Effectiveness Award for Graduate Student Instructors, 2003-04
Regents-Intern Fellowship, 1997-2001 

Professional Affiliations

American Council for Southern Asian Art, elected Board Member (Secretary 2010-present)
American Institute for Sri Lankan Studies
Association for Asian Studies
College Art Association
International Association of Buddhist Studies

random UIC photo

Contact Information

Office: 211A HH, MC 201
Phone: 312-996-5975