Padma Dorje Maitland

Position Assistant Professor




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Areas of Expertise


My research to date has focused on the art and architecture of modern Buddhism in India and their association with various nationalist movements. I have a parallel research interest in Hindi travel literature and its impact on framing Buddhism as a model for social, political, and religious reform. Building on the transnational histories imagined around modern Buddhism in India, my current research examines hope as an emotional register within colonial and postcolonial discourses and its expression in the art and architecture.

In collaboration with the Department of Contemporary Art at the Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, I co-curated an exhibition and program titled After Hope. The project brings together artists, scholars, and community leaders for an interdisciplinary and critical examination of hope's potential to animate form, method, and action. The program includes an exhibition -- After Hope: Videos of Resistance -- that features over 50 single-channel video works by artists from across Asia and its diaspora, an international working group, and a digital platform -- -- developed by students at Cal Poly.

Prior to starting at Cal Poly, I was a curator of Asian art, specializing in modern and contemporary art of South and Southeast Asia, first at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, where I curated the show Home and Away (2018), and then at the Cantor Art Center, Stanford University. As a guest curator at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archives, I curated The Elephant’s Eye: Artful Animals in South & Southeast Asia (2014). My research and work have taken me around the world, and especially to South Asia. As part of my graduate studies, I was a Fulbright-Nehru Scholar and a Junior Fellow of the American Institute for Indian Studies. I also served as the Assistant Art Director for the Swayambhu Renovation Project in Kathmandu, Nepal.


Educational Credentials:

  • Ph.D. in South and Southeast Asian Studies, University of California, Berkeley, 2021
  • Ph.D. in Architectural History and Theory, University of California, Berkeley, 2018
  • M.A. in South and Southeast Asian Studies, University of California, Berkeley, 2016
  • Master of Architecture, Princeton University, 2009
    B.A. in Architecture, University of California, Berkeley, 2005

Teaching Experience:

  • Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo 

Professional Experience:


Selected Publications and Recent Research:

  • "The Religious and Affective Actualities of the Yamuna: Conversations with Pandit Premchand Sharma, Nigambodh Ghat, Delhi," Liquescent Materiality: Water in Global South Asia, 1500-2000, eds. Sugata Ray and Venugopal Maddipati (London: Routledge, 2019), 245-259.
  • "Black Buddhist," Global Raciality: Empire, Postcoloniality, and Decoloniality, eds. Paola Bacchetta and Sunaina Maira. (London: Routledge, 2019), 171-194.
  • "New Materialism," Bloomsbury Handbook of Literary and Cultural Theory, ed. Jeffrey Di Leo (New York: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2018), 594-595.
  • "A House for the Nation to Remember: A Correspondence of Emotions between Jawaharlal Nehru and G.D. Birla, 1948," Emotional Practices, Objects, and Changes: Essays on the History of Emotions in India, China, and Japan, edited by Barbara Schuler (Leiden: Brill, 2017), 33-56.
  • The Object Emotions Dossier, symplokē 24.1 (2016): 155-275, co-edited with Marta Figlerowicz and Christopher P. Miller [available here].
  • "Mandalas" Critical Sustainabilities. Keyword Entry [available here].
  • "Ubran Pilgrimage," Room One Thousand, 3 (2015), co-edited with Lawrence Yang [available here].
  • "Souvenir Nostalgia," Room One Thousand, 2 (2014): ii-xi [available here].
  • "Technology and the Box," Room One Thousand, 1 (2013): 7-18 [available here].
  • "Feeling Center: A Place for a Rose," Floor, Issue 2 (2013), online [available here].

Selected Exhibitions:


Updated 09.30.2022

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