Washington South Asia Report

Vol. XXVI, Number 2
Spring / Summer 2010


Director's Message


   As I write we are in the midst of commencement festivities. The quad is full of our newly minted graduates, all bright and buoyant in the formal regalia of graduation. I always enjoy seeing them as they remind me of our core endeavors at this university: to educate and be inspired, to research and break the boundaries of scholarship, and to serve our academic community and beyond. We wish our newest graduates well and hope they will keep in touch.

   As the academic year winds down, I am pleased to report we have had a fruitful year. Our newest faculty members have energized the program with their teaching and their exciting fields of academic inquiry. Best of all their communitarian spirit reflects and builds our collective sensibilities here in the Pacific Northwest and at the University of Washington. You have the opportunity to learn more about one of them, Prof. Sareeta Amrute, in a feature in this newsletter.

   Congratulations to Dr. Anu Taranath for winning the University of Washington’s Distinguished Teaching Award, 2010 for excellence in teaching. Dr. Taranath teaches courses in the Comparative History of Ideas program and the Department of English. She leads the highly acclaimed Explorations in Social Justice program abroad to Bengaluru. This Spring, thanks to Dr. Taranath’s generosity, her collaborators in Bengaluru, Indhu Subramaniam and B.N. Usha from Hengasara Hakkina Sangha (Association for Women’s Rights) visited the university. A South Asia chai on activism with Indhu, Usha and Vijay Prashad was not just inspiring but a lot of fun.

   This Spring we had a series of provocative and well-attended talks on the theme of “Interrogating Traditions: the Everyday and the Ethical in South Asia Lecture Series.” Our guests were Prof. Anupama Rao (Barnard), Prof. Vijay Pinch (Wesleyan) and Prof. Ann Feldhaus (Arizona State University). In collaboration with the American Institute of Pakistan Studies, we hosted Prof. Sultan-e-Rome (Government College, Saidu Sharif, Swat, NWFP) who visited several classes and gave a deeply informed and insiders view on Swat: An Analysis of Political, Administrative, Socio-Political and Economic Developments. The Department of Asian Languages and Literatures’ Andrew L. Markus Memorial Lecture this year was delivered by Prof. Stephanie Jamison (UCLA). In addition, the Simpson Center for the Humanities and the Department of Women Studies hosted Prof. Richa Nagar (University of Minnesota) and, with them, we co-hosted Prof. Vijay Prashad (Trinity College). Stimulating intellectual conversations took place, as well, at the South Asia Research Colloquia, with presentations by our own faculty and doctoral students.

   On 15 May 2010, with the generous support of Microsoft, the South Asia Center hosted Development, Diaspora and the Next Generation: Mapping, Learning and Building South Asian Community. The workshop was part of a recent initiative that seeks to facilitate discussions between the Seattle South Asian development and diaspora communities and the University of Washington faculty and students. The Development and Diaspora project recognizes that Seattle is home to an amazing number of organizations and people engaged in development work in South Asia and many development institutions which are staffed by people of South Asian origin. These activities take place along multiple scales, from the vast global networks of the Gates Foundation to smaller grassroots non-profits such as Sangati. The Development and Diaspora project was created as a way for people to systematically exchange and learn from each other’s South Asian development experiences, and to ultimately integrate academic, activist and policy development work on the subcontinent. Over the past year, a directory of organizations that are based in the Seattle area and that work in South Asia was created in order to showcase ongoing projects. This directory is available at: www.uwsouthasiadev.org. We hope to continue the project next year and we will keep you informed of the activities planned. For more on the workshop please see the attached report.

   I hope you have a great summer and look forward to seeing you in the Fall.

Best wishes,

Priti Ramamurthy



South Asia Center Director

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South Asia Center
University of Washington
303 Thomson Hall
Box 353650
Seattle, WA 98195
(206) 543-4800 phone
(206) 685-0668 fax

Anand Yang, Director

Keith Snodgrass, Associate Director

Molly Wilskie-Kala, Program Coordinator

Nick Gottschall, Graduate Student Assistant

Robyn Davis, FLAS Coordinator

Sunila Kale, Graduate Program Coordinator