BROWN, Bernardo Enrique

J-GLOBAL         Last updated: Dec 1, 2019 at 02:40
BROWN, Bernardo Enrique
International Christian University
College of Liberal Arts Division of Arts and Sciences
Job title
Assistant Professor
Ph.D.(Cornell University), M.A.(Cornell University), M.A.(New School for Social Research), Licenciado(Universidad de Buenos Aires)
Research funding number


I am an anthropologist specialized in the culture and history of Catholic Sri Lanka and more broadly on the Anthropology of Christianity in South and Southeast Asia.

My current project is titled “Religious Elites & Mobility: Catholic Priestly Formation in South and Southeast Asia.” The project is an exploration of religious networks in Asia focused on the education of Catholic priests in Singapore and Sri Lanka. Its main objective is to examine the circulation of religious specialists, educators and students who come to these centers of religious learning to train or be trained in the theological, doctrinal, ritual and pastoral aspects of the priesthood. The project emphasizes how technologies of mobility and networks that enable circulation have contributed to the historic consolidation of Catholic communities across the region, and are currently shaping the future of the Church in Asia.

For my doctoral studies I conducted ethnographic fieldwork along the western coast of Sri Lanka with Sinhalese-speaking Catholic fishermen who abandon their occupation to embark on labor migration to Italy. My dissertation examined how their Italian experience impacted material and moral aspects of family and community life upon return, emphasizing how a changing local landscape marked by individualism and market liberalism, often had more disruptive consequences on South Asian life-worlds than migration itself.

New research initiatives include a collaborative research project on the theme of Intersecting Religious Mobilities in Southeast Asia. For this initiative, I am working on two new projects focused on Catholicism in Malaysia and Singapore. The first project focuses on the process of bidding and fundraising for the development of new spaces for worship. The second project is a historical examination of the role of Missions Etrangères de Paris (MEP) in the dissemination and consolidation of Catholicism in Singapore and Malaysia.

Research Interests


Research Areas


Academic & Professional Experience

Nov 2014
Aug 2017
National University of Singapore Asia Research Institute Research Fellow
Oct 2013
Sep 2014
Leiden University International Institute for Asian Studies Postdoctoral Fellow


Aug 2007
Jul 2013
Cultural Anthropology, Graduate School, Division of Humanities and Social Sciences, Cornell University
Aug 2007
Dec 2009
Cultural Anthropology, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Cornell University
Jan 2004
Apr 2006
International Affairs, New School for Social Engagement, New School for Social Research
Aug 1994
Dec 1999
Political Science, Faculty of Social Science, Universidad de Buenos Aires

Published Papers

The Apostolic Vicariate of Western Siam and the Rise of Catholicism in Malaysia and Singapore
Brown, Bernardo Pillai, Shanthini*
International Journal of Asian Christianity   1(1) 45-63   Jan 2018   [Refereed]
Introduction: Configuring Catholicism in the Anthropology of Christianity
Brown, Bernardo *Feener, R Michael*
The Australian Journal of Anthropology   28(2) 139-151   Jul 2017   [Refereed]
In Search of the ‘Solemn’ with Sri Lankan Migrant Priests
Brown, Bernardo
The Australian Journal of Anthropology   28(2) 180-194   Jul 2017   [Refereed]
Routines of Morality: Nurturing Familiar Values in Unfamiliar Lands
Brown, Bernardo
Ethnography   17(1) 3-21   2016   [Refereed]
Jesuit Missionaries in Post-colonial Conflict Zones: The Disappearance of ‘Fr. Basketball’ in Batticaloa, Sri Lanka
Brown, Bernardo
South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies   38(4) 589-607   2015   [Refereed]


Unlikely Cosmopolitans: An Ethnographic Reflection on Migration and Belonging in Si Lanka
Anthropological Quarterly   91(1) 209-236   Apr 2018   [Refereed]
Human Mobility as Engine of Religious Change
Asian Migrants and Religions Experience (Book chapter)   11-33   Mar 2018   [Refereed]
A Multicultural Church. Notes on Sri Lankan Transnational Workers and the Migrant Chaplaincy in Italy
Brown, Bernardo E.
Asian Migrants and Religions Experience (Book chapter)   221-241   Mar 2018   [Refereed]
Review of Evangelisation and Politics in the Naga Hills by John Thomas
Economic and Political Weekly   54(7)    Feb 2019   [Invited]
Review of Christianity in Indian History: Issues of Culture, Power and Knowledge by Pius Joy L. Malekandathil, K. Pachuau, and Tanika Sarkar
Economic and Political Weekly   52(5) 29-30   Feb 2017   [Invited]

Books etc

Asian Migrants and Religious Experience. From Missionary Journeys to Labor Mobility
Brown, Bernardo *Yeoh, Brenda SA* (Part:Joint Editor)
Amsterdam University Press   Mar 2018   
Configuring Catholicism in the Anthropology of Christianity
Brown, Bernardo *Feener, R. Michael* (Part:Joint Editor)
Wiley   Jul 2017   

Conference Activities & Talks

Religion and Citizenship in Asia: Christian minority responses to the State
SEASIA Biennial Conference 2019   6 Dec 2019   
Vocation for Travel: Catholic Seminary training in Sri Lanka [Invited]
Cornell South Asia Program Lecture Series   18 Nov 2019   South Asia Program
To Become a Priest in Sri Lanka: Recruitment, education and mobility in a Catholic Seminary [Invited]
Asia Research Institute Lecture Series   22 Feb 2019   Asia Research Institute
Vocation for Travel: Catholic Seminary Training in Sri Lanka [Invited]
Otago University -Lecture Series   27 Jul 2018   Otago University
Emerging Debates in the Anthropology of Religion in Asia
Victoria University of Wellington Workshop Series   11 Jul 2018   Department of Religious Studies

Research Grants & Projects

Vocation for Travel: Catholic Seminary Formation in Sri Lanka
Japan Society for the Promotion of Science: WAKATE
Project Year: Apr 2019 - Mar 2022
Religious Mobility in Southeast Asia
Kenneth Dean(NUS)- Kim, Hui-Yeon (USPC): 
Project Year: Apr 2017 - Apr 2018
Religious Elites and Mobility in South Asia
Project Year: Nov 2016 - Oct 2018