Dr Rita E M Langer

M.A., Ph.D.(Hamburg)

  • BS8 1TB

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Personal profile

Research interests


My research focuses on two different but complementary areas of Buddhism: (1) Buddhist ritual and its origin (in South and South East Asia, particularly Sri Lanka) and (2) Buddhist material culture and food. My approach is interdisciplinary and combines textual studies with field work. I have conducted extensive research into funerals rites and death rituals in Sri Lanka, Laos and Thailand as part of an AHRC funded project on Death Rituals in Southeast Asia and China. My current research project is concerned with food, merit and cosmology in Theravada Buddhism. I have conducted field work in Thailand, Laos and Myanmar but my main area of expertise is Sri Lankan Buddhism.


My teaching responsibilities cover units in Buddhism and Indian Culture, as well as Sanskrit and Pāli. I have introduced well-subscribed units (open to second and third year students) on the “Religious and Cultural traditions of ancient India” and on “Death and Afterlife in Buddhism” and which make use of audio-visual material and primary sources in translation. In addition I have redesigned an existing, specialized unit concerned with history and practice of Theravada Buddhism in Asia (open to third year and MA students), by introducing audio-visual teaching material, which I generated during my field trips to Sri Lanka, Laos, Thailand and Myanmar. The study of Indian languages (Pali and Sanskrit) is essential for serious students of Buddhism and Hinduism. The Sanskrit unit has also attracted quite a few Classics students bringing up the number of students enrolled for the unit considerably. Besides, I am lead person for a new collaboratively taught unit (Religion&Theology and Classics&Ancient History) on “Ghosts, death and the afterlife” which had attracted over 80 students. I have this year introduce a new unit “Dissertation with fieldwork or work placement” which is an alternative to the mandatory dissertation unit at level 3.


  • Religion
  • Buddhist Studies
  • Buddhism
  • Ritual economy
  • food systems
  • Sri Lanka


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