Whitney Sanford received her B.A. in English and Philosophy from Bowdoin College and M.A. and Ph.D. in Religious Studies from the University of Pennsylvania, specializing in north Indian devotional traditions. She teaches and researches in two main areas: Religion and Nature and Religions of Asia, and her current work lies at the intersection of religion, food (and agriculture), and social equity, focusing on South Asia.
Her current book project “Being the Change: What Gandhi Can Teach Us about Sustainability, Self-Sufficiency, and Non-violence” explores Gandhi’s influence on contemporary intentional communities in the United States. She has conducted fieldwork in Missouri, Iowa, California, and Florida to discern how communities are translating aspects of Gandhian social thought, e.g. non-violence, voluntary simplicity, and appropriate technologies, into practice.
Her recent publication Growing Stories from India: Religion and the Fate of Agriculture (University Press of Kentucky, 2012) uses Hindu agricultural narratives to consider how we can provide food in a sustainable and just manner. She conducted fieldwork in Baldeo, India, examining narratives and practices related to Balaram, a deity associated with agriculture.
Her first book Singing Krishna: Sound Becomes Sight in Paramanand’s Poetry (SUNY 2008) focuses on Braj devotional traditions and explores the role of devotional poetry in ritual practice. She has published articles in JAAR, Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics, International Journal of Hindu Studies, Worldviews and Alternative Krishnas, edited by Guy Beck (SUNY Press, 2005).