SOAS University of London

Department of Religions & Philosophies, School of History, Religions & Philosophies

Ms Monika Hirmer

BA (University of Florence), MA (SOAS), MPhil (University of Hyderabad)
  • Teaching
  • Research


Monika Hirmer
Ms Monika Hirmer
Email address:
SOAS University of London
Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG
Russell Square: College Buildings
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Academic Support Hours:
Friday 1:00-2:00 pm
Thesis title:
Becoming the Goddess: Study of a Contemporary South Indian Tantric Tradition and its Implications for Concepts of Personhood, Gender Relations and Everyday Life
Year of Study:
Internal Supervisors


Monika Hirmer is a PhD candidate in the Department of Religions and Philosophies, SOAS, University of London. Her current project focuses on a contemporary South Indian Śrīvidyā tradition and its implications for concepts of personhood such as gender, body and motherhood. Monika has spent extended periods of time in India since 2008, working as cultural coordinator for the Association of German Culture, consultant for the German Year in India and programme officer for the German Research Foundation (DFG), before pursuing her MPhil in Anthropology of Religion from the University of Hyderabad. She holds an MA in South Asian Area Studies from SOAS, University of London.

Monika's PhD project is funded by the V. P. Kanitkar Memorial Scholarship.

PhD Research

Monika’s PhD research is about a Tantric (Śrīvidyā) goddess tradition, as it is currently practiced in South India. The vast majority of Tantric studies concentrating on traditions from the past, scholarly knowledge on Tantra remains largely text-based. With this study, based upon intensive and extensive fieldwork among current-day Śrīvidyā practitioners, Monika aims at directing the attention from theory to practice, in particular bringing to light how the ritual corpus around the erotic and motherly goddess Tripurasundarī affects the everyday life of its practitioners. Concentrating on the central tenet of Śrīvidyā that foresees that both, male and female adepts identify with the goddess, and analysing the sophisticated rituals aimed at evoking this identification, the study explores how concepts of personhood, such as gender, body and motherhood are shaped and impact the lives of Śrīvidyā practitioners.

At the intersection of gender studies, religious studies, South Asian studies and anthropology, this project will provide a detailed ethnographic account combined with an elaborate analytical framework.


  • Hirmer, Monika and Istratii, Romina, eds. (2017) 'Exploring Fluid Times: Knowledge, Minds and Bodies'. The SOAS Journal of Postgraduate Research; Vol. 10, 2016-2017.
  • Hirmer, Monika (2016) 'Looking for the Indian woman’s identity: Discrepancies and power imbalances across theory and popular culture'. The SOAS Journal of Postgraduate Research, Vol. 9 (2015-16), 7-23.
  • Istratii, Romina and Hirmer, Monika, eds. (2016) 'Identities: Power and Politics'. The SOAS Journal of Postgraduate Research; Vol. 9, 2015-2016.
  • Hirmer, Monika (2016) 'The Gaze'. Economic and Political Weekly, LI(11), 92-93.


  • EMBRACING THE GODDESS. Panel Discussion (2018), Wellcome Collection, London (UK): 'Challenging bodies and genders by becoming the Goddess'. 05.04.2018
  • RECREATING SPACES: LANGUAGE, CULTURE AND GENDER. International Seminar (2017), Andhra University, Visakhapatnam (IN): ‘An analysis of the gendered imaginaries and sexual politics of colonialism'. 09.12.2017
  • A MULTIDISCILPINARY LOOK ON SEX, GENDER, AND HEALTH. National Symposium (2016), Goodenough College, London (UK): ‘Tracing sex and gender in Hindu traditions’, 18.04.2016
  • GENDER ISSUES: TRANSCENDING BOUNDARIES OF CULTURE. International Conference (2014), Andhra University, Visakhapatnam (IN): ‘The perception of women in India’. 20.09.2014.


  • University of Hyderabad


  • The Margins of Philosophy': Postcolonial, Gender, and Queer Epistemologies


  • Hindu religious traditions
  • Goddess traditions
  • Gender
  • Rituals
  • Concepts of personhood
  • India