Nalika Gajaweera

Research Affiliate


Nalika Gajaweera is a cultural anthropologist specializing in the intersections of academic research, community engagement, and public scholarship. Her expertise lies in the complex relationships between religion, race, gender, ethics, and social justice, with a particular emphasis on promoting community wellbeing and resilience. Her research has predominantly focused on the intersections of Buddhism, race, ethno-nationalism, and gender, with in-depth studies conducted in Sri Lanka and the United States. One of her recent research projects is the "Transforming American Sangha: Race, Racism, and Diversity in North American Insight Meditation" project, which spanned three years and was funded by the Kataly Foundation.

Gajweera earned her PhD in anthropology from the University of California, Irvine in 2013, and subsequently served as the Senior Research Analyst at the Center for Religion and Civic Culture at the University of California from 2014 to 2023. In addition to her research affiliation to the Capps Center, Gajaweera serves as a journal Co-Editor for Religion Compass, Program Committee member for the Asian Pacific American Religions Research Initiative, Committee Member for Buddhism in the West Unit of American Academy of Religion, and on the Editorial Board of American Anthropologist. Nali joined the Capps Center in 2024.