Matthew Milligan

Religious Studies, Anthropology
Austin, Texas
Ph.D. candidate, Department of Asian Studies, University of Texas
In a nutshell, what do you do?
I study ancient Indian religion, specifically Buddhism, via archaeology and literature. I am a specialist in reading Prakrit and Sanskrit stone inscriptions from 2,200 years ago. I read Sanskrit, Prakrit, Pali, and Hindi languages for my academic work. My goal is to become a tenured professor at a prestigious academic institution.
What are you working on right now?
My dissertation, right now titled Of Rags and Riches: Indian Buddhist Patronage Networks in the Early Historic Period, examines the connection between monastic sites and commerce. I argue that monks and nuns could not find a way to eliminate the need for money from their lives and instead used creative new strategies to tap into economic nodes for patronage at their worship centers.
Why do you love what you do?
I love to travel and I love history, so this gives me a chance to be creative in studying the past. This is likely one of the only professions I could have chosen that would have paid me to do all the things I love. Additionally, being challenged intellectually on a daily basis helps my mind stay fit. With every new research project comes new challenges to overcome in unique ways.
How did Albion help you get there?
Albion gave me the well-rounded liberal arts start to academia that I needed. The intellectual tools I learned while at Albion catalyzed my love for history and have enabled my academic career path, if not accelerated it. Additionally, at Albion I had a chance to work one-on-one with professors in Religious Studies and Anthropology, which sharpened my future research interests tremendously.
For me, Albion ...
... represents learning through small, student-centered classrooms. Albion’s focus on developing students' ability to critically engage with core material enhances all of their abilities and prepares them for a world that twists and turns with little consistency.
Anything else you'd like to add?
For any students reading this who are interested in graduate school, I would strongly encourage them to pursue language study as soon as possible. Language is the key to understanding society and the world more broadly—past, present, and future. Combined with Albion’s liberal arts training, a student who knows several languages will be able to apply that liberal arts knowledge efficiently to human encounters throughout the world.

Take It Further: Religious Studies, Anthropology and Sociology