Institution: University of Toronto Mississauga

Position: Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream, Department of Historical Studies


Sarah Aoife Richardson is a historian of the arts and religions of South Asia with a specialization in Buddhist visual and material practice, especially Himalayan painting. Sarah holds a PhD from the University of Toronto (2016), and is an Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream, in the History of Religions for the Department of Historical Studies at the University of Toronto Mississauga. She also works with Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Centre for Buddhist Studies at the University of Toronto as the Director of Partnerships and Engagement and helps to develop research and teaching support in Buddhist studies at the University and beyond. She especially enjoys teaching and learning about the ways that the arts are used in religious contexts, and how the arts move people and build communities. She loves teaching, and is also passionate about finding ways to help students experience the arts more richly in her courses. In 2020 she was awarded the UTM Teaching Excellence Award for Sessional Instructors.

Sarah is working on a book length study about Visual Words in Tibetan Architecture, which is an in-depth study of the rich program of inscribed murals at an important fourteenth-century Tibetan Buddhist monastery called Shalu (Zhwa lu). Mural paintings, Sarah argues, were then (and are still) useful in larger cultural projects of Tibetan Buddhist knowledge production and social communication. She also extends her scholarly practice to the museum, and has researched for years the largely unpublished Tibetan paintings collection at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto (ROM), where she is also working to bring forward an upcoming exhibition focused on how Buddhist religious art constructs and represents vision exchange.

Sarah Aoife Richardson