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Dr. Matthew R. Sayers
Associate Professor of Religion & Director of Religion and Philosophy

Academic Areas of Expertise

  • Religion
  • Buddhism
  • Hinduism
  • Death
  • Evil
  • Comparative Religion
  • Inclusive Excellence
  • Scripture

Courses Taught at LVC

Encountering World Religions

First-Year Experience

Comparative Scripture

Evolutionary Controversy

Religious Diversity in America

Research Topics

  • Ancestor worship in the Hindu tradition
  • Pilgrimage
  • Ritual
  • Interfaith cooperation
  • Religious literacy
  • Vocation in higher education

Professional Leadership & Major Awards

Positions and Awards

Thomas Rhys Vickroy Teaching Award, 2014

Scholarly Work


Feeding the Dead: Ancestor Worship in Ancient India. Oxford (2013)

Edited Volume: with David Geary and Abhishek Singh Amar, Cross-Disciplinary Perspectives on a Contested Buddhist Site: Bodh Gaya Jataka. Routledge (2012)


Forthcoming. “Ancestor Worship.” In Brill’s Encyclopedia of Hinduism. Edited by Knut A. Jacobsen, Helene Basu, and Vasudha Narayanan. Leiden: E. J. Brill.

2019. “The Story of Me: A Myth-understanding of Vocation.” In Hearing Vocation Differently: Meaning, Purpose, and Identity in the Multi-Faith Academy. Edited by David S. Cunningham. New York: Oxford University Press.

2018. “Ancestral Rites Re-worked: The Transition from Solemn to Domestic Modes of Feeding the Dead.” In Ritual Innovation: Strategic Interventions in South Asian Religion, 111–127. Edited by Amy Allocco and Brian Pennington. Albany: SUNY Press.

2018. “Funeral and Ancestral Offerings: antyeṣṭhi & śrāddha.” In The Oxford History of Hinduism: Hindu Law: A New History of Dharmasastra. Edited by Patrick Olivelle and Donald R. Davis. New York: Oxford University Press.

2016. “Early Gayā: The Emergence of Tīrthaśrāddha.” Religions of South Asia 10.1: 9–30.

2015. “The śrāddha: The Development of Ancestor Worship in Classical Hinduism.” Religion Compass.

2012. “Claiming Modes of Mediation in Ancient Hindu and Buddhist Ancestor Worship.” Journal of Ritual Studies 26.1 5–18.

2010. “Gayā-Bodhgayā: The Origin of a Pilgrimage Complex.” Religions of South Asia 4.1: 9–25.


Contact Info

Email Address


Humanities 307-D

Phone Number