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Research Interests:
Arts, Humanities, Social Sciences
Discipline: History and Religion
Pillar / Cluster: Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences


Alastair Gornall gained his Ph.D. in Asian Studies from the University of Cambridge in 2013. He is currently an Associate Professor in History and Religion at the Singapore University of Technology and Design and a Research Associate in the Department of the Languages and Cultures of South Asia at SOAS, University of London. His research focuses on the intellectual and cultural history of Buddhism in South and Southeast Asia. He teaches courses on Asian religion and history and helps lead the digital humanities minor programme.

Recent Publications

Authored Books

2020. Rewriting Buddhism: Pali Literature and Monastic Reform in Sri Lanka, 1153–1270. London: UCL Press.

Edited Books

  • 2014. Ciotti, Giovanni, Alastair Gornall and Paolo Visigalli, eds. Pupikā: Tracing Ancient India Through Texts and Traditions. Contributions to Current Research in Indology Volume 2. Oxford: Oxbow Books.

Select Articles

  1. (with C. Hallisey and P.B. Meegaskumbura). “‘May It Always Be About Adding Beauty to Beauty’: The Story of the Mirror in Sri Lanka.” In A Lasting Vision: Dandin’s Mirror in the World of Asian Letters, ed. Yigal Bronner. Oxford: Oxford University Press. (in print)
  2. 2022. “Pali: Its Place in the Theravada Buddhist Tradition.” In The Routledge Handbook of Theravada Buddhism, ed. S. Berkwitz and A. Thompson. London: Routledge.
  3. 2020. “The Sources of the Sidat Saňgarā, the First Grammar of Sinhala.” In Multilingualism in South India: Patterns of Language Interaction, ed. G. Ciotti and E. McCann, 411–28. Puducherry: Institut Français de Pondichéry, École Française d’Extrême-Orient.
  4. 2019 (with Aleix Ruiz-Falqués). “Scholars of Premodern Pali Buddhism.” In Brill’s Encyclopedia of Buddhism, ed. by Jonathan A. Silk, Richard Bowring, Vincent Eltschinger and Michael Radich, 420–36. Leiden: Brill.
  5. 2018 (with Amal Gunasena). “A History of the Pali Grammatical Traditions of South and Southeast Asia by Vaskaḍuvē Subhūti (1876): Part One: The Kaccāyana-vyākaraṇa and its commentaries.” Journal of the Pali Text Society 33: 1–53.
  6. 2018 (with Aleix Ruiz-Falqués).“Verses of a Dying Arahant: A Revised Edition and Translation of the Telakaṭāhagāthā.” Journal of the Pali Text Society 33: 55–100.
  7. 2017 (with Justin Henry). “Beautifully Moral: Cosmopolitan Issues in Medieval Pali Literary Theory.” In Sri Lanka at the Crossroads of History, ed. by Alan Strathern and Zoltán Biedermann, 77–93. London: University College London Press.
  8. 2015. “Fame and Philology: R.C. Childers and the Beginnings of Pāli and Buddhist Studies.” Contemporary Buddhism, vol. 16, no. 2: 462–89.
  9. 2014. “How Many Sounds Are in Pāli? Schisms, Identity and Ritual in the Theravāda Saṅgha.”Journal of Indian Philosophy, vol. 42, no. 5: 511–50.

Recorded Lectures and Talks

Online lecture for Shan State Buddhist University/ King’s College, London, 7 August 2020.

Conference paper for A Lasting Vision: Dandin’s Mirror in the World of Asian Letters, Jerusalem, Israel, 13–17 December 2015.

Alastair Gornall


  • 2009 – 2012, PhD, South Asian Studies, University of Cambridge
  • 2009, MA, Study of Religions, SOAS, University of London (Distinction)
  • 2008, BA, Study of Religions, SOAS, University of London (1st Class Hons.)


  • 2018 Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Research Fellowship in Buddhist Studies
  • 2014 SUTD Pedagogy Research Grant
  • 2009 - 2012, Rapson Scholarship, University of Cambridge
  • 2008 - 2009, AHRC Research Preparation Masters Award, SOAS
  • 2007, Undergraduate School Prize, SOAS



  • Religion
  • Intellectual History
  • Historical sociology