Divya Kumar-Dumas

Visiting Research Scholar 2021-22

Divya Kumar-Dumas is a historian of art and architecture who specializes in recovering the attestable designed landscapes of first millennium South Asia from archaeology and text. Her work is influenced by methods from studies of word and image, gardens and landscapes, landscape and garden archaeology, cultural and oral history, and folk and traditional arts especially performance and ritual. She treats landscapes as both conceptually driven architectural projects of the past and invitations to experience a place over its long, layered afterlife. She finds this phenomenon of 'place-ness' key to recovering design in the early landscape.

She received her PhD (2021) in South Asia Studies from the University of Pennsylvania. Her dissertation, "The Experience of Early Designed Landscape in South Asia," re-considered two well-known archaeological sites as designed landscapes, by reading their visitor records alongside their archaeological traces. She has published focused interpretations of these sites as landscapes as well as general contributions relating to the cultural history of landscapes and plants.

At ISAW, Divya will unpack typologies for first millennium Southern Asian ports by using digital tools to understand attested ports as artifact distributions on geological and topographical landforms that were used by humans. Although this work builds from previous research on the coastal site of Mamallapuram, India, it represents a new interest in the relationship of known places and things to Indian Ocean networks, trade, and movement.

She holds a BA in History from Yale University and an MA in Landscape Design from George Washington University.