Vaishnavi Patil is a doctoral candidate at Harvard University in the History of Art and Architecture department working on South and Southeast Asia. Vaishnavi received her B.A. in Ancient Indian History and Culture (2014) from St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai, and an MA in History of Art and Archaeology (2015) from SOAS, London. She was a Yenching scholar at Peking University, China, receiving an MA in China Studies (2018). In addition to her studies, Vaishnavi has participated in numerous internships, including curatorial training at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Harvard Art Museums. 

Vaishnavi is interested in studying female deities, especially mother goddesses, and how production, patronage, and development of religions play a role in the evolution of the mother goddess in South Asia. She is also interested in the text-to-image relationships in South Asian art, particularly the literal and the symbolic in the illustration of a text. Other areas of interest include popular practices, marginalized deities, depiction of evil, and gender issues. Her current research aims to analyze the origins and development of the cult of the mother goddess in South and Southeast Asia, particularly her representations and the popular practices centered on her.