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The Australian National University

Dr McComas Taylor

Head, South Asia Program & Senior Lecturer
ANU College of Asia and the Pacific
T: + 61 2 6125 3179

Areas of expertise

  • Epistemology 220304
  • Indian Literature 200520
  • Studies In Eastern Religious Traditions 220406
  • Language Studies 2003

Research interests

  • The construction of truth in the Sanskritic episteme
  • The ideas of social division in Sanskrit narrative literature
  • Puranic narratives and their empowerment
  • Role of Sanskrit texts in contemporary Hindu practice
  • Flexible delivery of small-enrolment languages


McComas Taylor heads the South Asia Progam in the College of Asia and the Pacific at the Australian National University in Canberra. His research lies at the intersection of contemporary critical theory and classical Sanskrit narrative literature. His primary focus is on the construction of ‘true’ discourse in the Foucauldian sense in the Sanskritic, Hindu episteme. His initial work in this area was on the narrative fables in the Pañcatantra cycle. The primary output of this was a book, The fall of the Indigo Jackal, published by SUNY Press in 2007. Following that, he turned his attention to textual studies of the mahapuranas in which he explored various authorial strategies aimed at empowering puranic discourse. More recently, he has studied contemporary oral rendition of puranic texts, specifically the Bhagavatapurana, to explore ways in which performative and ritual practices empower discourse.

Researcher's projects

Recent media

  •    'ANU joins edX online revolution' (ANU News 25 Feb 2103)
  •     'Learning from Legends: McComas Taylor discusses the Indian epic' (ANU Reporter Nov. 2012)
  •     'Behind a Cultural Pathway', (The Australian, 4 Feb 2012)
  •     'India Shining?', (ABC Radio Southeast, 16 Sept 2010)
  •     Naxalite insurgency, India (SBS Radio World View, 9 April 2010)
  •     Faculty teachers awarded Vice-Chancellor's Citation (ANU Blog Aug 2009)
  •     Book review: 'The Hindus: An Atlernative History (Wendy Doniger) (South Asia Masala Blog 7 August 2009)
  •     'And now, a passage from India' Interview, (Canberra Times, 22 March 2009)
  •     'Hindi Teachers Loss Hurts Tongue' (The Australian 2 April 2008)
  •     'Distinguished dozen: Students name the best at Festival of Teaching' (ANU News 2008)
  •     'Ancient stories find new life' (ANU News 2008)
  •     'Six Easy Lessons in Sanskrit' (ANU Reporter 2008)
  •     'Simla Conference Re-enacted' (FAS News 16 Sept 2008)
  •     'Friend in Asia' (The Australian 12 Sept 2007)
  •     'Eye on South Asia's giants' (The Australian 12 Sept 2007)
  •     'The Perfection of Sanskrit' - ABC Radio 'Linga Franca' (8 December 2007)
  •     'First National Sanskrit festival' ABC Radio National (Canberra), 17 November 2007
  •     'Funding for Asian Studies', ABC Radio National, 8 March 2007
  •     'Sanskrit, the language of life' (Canberra Times 22 May 2006)


  •     2012, Chair, India History Post Search Committee
  •     2012, Chair, Hindi-Urdu Post Search Committee
  •     2012, ARC Expert Assessor
  •     2010-, Chair, South Asia Board of Studies
  •     2009-, ANU Wattle Reference Committee
  •     2009-, FAS Schools and Community Outreach Program
  •     2008-09, ANU LMS selection committee
  •     2008 Academic Skills job selection committee
  •     2007-, Faculty of Asian Studies Dean's Advisory Group/Faculty Management Group
  •     2007,Faculty of Asian Studies Education Committee (Tutor liaison)
  •     2007, Faculty of Asian Studies Workloads Committee
  •     2006-07, Asian Studies Graduate Affairs Committee
  •     2006-, Asian Studies Library Advisory Committee
  •     2006-07, Faculty of Asian Studies Heads of Centres Committe

Conferences and Workshops Organised

  •     Second National Australian Sanskrit Conference, Canberra, 10-11 July 2010
  •    Second Sanskrit Winter Refresher Workshop 5-9 July 2010
  •     First Sanskrit Winter Refresher Workshop 20-24 July 2009
  •     First National Sanskrit Conference November 2007
  •     Second Spoken Sanskrit Summer School, Feb 2009
  •     First Spoken Sanskrit Summer School, Feb 2006

General Outreach

  •     Visit by Nantien Institute (Nov 2011)
  •     Third Sanskrit Winter Refresher (July 2011)
  •     Narrabundah Hindi Students visit (Oct 2011)
  •     Second Sanskrit Winter Refresher (July 2010)
  •     Narrabundah College Hindi Students visit ANU (June 2009)
  •     ANU at Dickson College (May 2009)
  •     Public Performance by Dr Ananth Rao: 'Rama's Grains' (March 2008)
  •     Beep Honk, Clatter: The sounds of Outdor Hindi (FAS Bhinneka May 2007)

PhD Supervision

  •     Successful completions: Ros Matthews (2012)
  •     In progress: Annie McCarthy, Patrick McCartney

Teaching responsibilities

Contributions to Innovation in Teaching and Learning at ANU

  •     Case Studies of Educational Excellence (2010)
  •     Tutorial participation - ASLC Podcast, (2009)
  •     Innovative pedagogy: How far can you go at ANU (May 2009)
  •     Student use of Digitally recorded lectures (2008)
  •     ANU Digital Lecture Delivery Project (2009)
  •     Podcast: Studying First Year in the Asian Studies Program (2008)
  •     Faculty Members at 3rd CLaSIC Conference, Singapore (Dec 2008)

International and Professional Organisations

  •     2012-, Consultative Committee, International Association for Sanskrit Studies
  •     2012-, Co-Director, Pan-Asia Institute, ANU-Indiana University


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Updated:  30 July 2016 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers