Greetings from the South Asia Center!

We’re taking this chance to reflect on the 2015-2016 academic year and to look ahead to the one that awaits.

Speakers and Conferences

The Center started the academic year with two important human rights and social justice conferences in October. First, in collaboration with the UW Center for Human Rights, a panel discussion on Access to Justice for Women in Agricultural Livelihoods was held, followed by a two-day symposium on Human Rights and the Politics of Film Making in South Asia in conjunction with Tasveer’s 2015 Seattle South Asian Film Festival. We will host a second annual Film Conference this October with a focus on films and filmmaking from Bangladesh.
India Consul General at event

South Asia MA student Jayanthi Gowrishankaran and UW faculty member Jameel Ahmad greet Consul General Venkatesan Ashok.

In February, the Center organized the day-long event US-India Economic Relations and the Contemporary Indian EconomyThis program featured: the Consul General of India from San Francisco, Ambassador Venkatesan Ashok. Representatives from local and international firms – Boeing, Amazon, and Nayamode – also participated, as well as numerous UW South Asia faculty members. In April, the Center hosted the Second Bangladesh Development Conference, supported by a grant from the American Institute of Bangladesh Studies.

 A large number of our faculty and graduate students made the trek to Portland in February to present their research at the annual SACPAN (South Asia Conference of the Pacific Northwest). This year, the University of Oregon hosted SACPAN for the first time. The University of Washington will host next year’s conference February 10-11, 2017.

Throughout the year, we were able to bring experts on South Asia from universities around the world to share their research with us. Academic visitors included: Christopher Pinney from University College London; Joyojeet Pal from University of Michigan; Charu Gupta from University of Delhi; Anne Murphy from University of British Columbia; Swaran Singh from Jawaharlal Nehru University; and Christophe Jaffrelot from CERI in France.  We already have a full roster of academic talks lined up for the 2016-2017 academic year. Presenters for fall 2016 currently include Sarah Besky of Brown University, Piya Chatterjee of Scripps College, Erika Rappaport of the University of California, Santa Barbara, as colloquia speakers.

A highlight of the year was our faculty book celebrations. We gathered to discuss and celebrate Professor Sudhir Mahadevan’s A Very Old Machine: The Many Origins of Cinema in India (SUNY, 2016), and Christian Novetzke’s Amar Akbar Anthony: Bollywood, Brotherhood, and the Nation (Harvard, 2016), who “performed” with his two co-authors (William Elison and Andy Rotman) beaming in via Skype.  We look forward to celebrating new books by Manish Chalana, Heidi Pauwels, Sareeta Amrute, and Anand Yang this academic year.

Nepal Studies Initiative

The South Asia Center’s vibrant Nepal Studies Initiative (NSI) organized events throughout the year. In one event, UW graduate student Claire Willey Sthapit discussed her research on strategies to engage communities in addressing domestic violence in Pokhara. Stephen Bezruchka, Senior Lecturer in the School of Global Health,  talked about lessons developed nations can learn about health from Nepal.

Nepal Critical Studies Explo Sem Students

Students in the UW Critical Development Studies Exploration Seminar in Nepal, August, 2016

During winter quarter, NSI presented UW’s first course focused on Nepal: Rethinking Shangri-la: Critical Engagements with Contemporary Issues in Nepal.  The course engaged students in critical thinking about Nepal through a lens of social work, global health, and public health.

In August and September NSI is hosting a group of students in Nepal for a field research trip. During this time it will also host the first UW  sponsored symposium in Nepal on Rethinking Resilience, Forging Futures: A Student-Focused Research Symposium on Contemporary Issues in Nepal.

 Film and Performance

The Center hosted a number of exciting performances and films this year. In November, Ankit Chadha gave a very engaging Dastaan Goi Urdu oral storytelling performance. In February, we screened Walls and the Tiger, the 2015 Amnesty International Best International Film on Human Rights, followed by a discussion with the filmmaker, Sushma Kallam.

Meghna Das introducing the audience to Odissi

Meghna Das introducing the audience to Odissi

In April, we sponsored a performance by Ustad Usman Khan, sitar maestro, who presented his unique style of Indian classical music. April and May brought more films and performances, including a showing of Threads which included a panel discussion with the filmmaker, Cathy Stevulak, and South Asia faculty Sonal Khullar and Rachel Heath. Along with the UW Center for Global Studies, the South Asia Center sponsored a showing of He Named Me Malala, about the Pakistani activist and youngest-ever Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai, followed by a lively and sometimes emotional discussion with Professor Cabeiri DeBergh Robinson about women’s rights, war, privilege, and education. In spring quarter, Meghna Das introduced us to Odissi, the beautiful classical dance style from the Eastern Indian state of Odisha.

Join us this November to celebrate the centennial of Rabindranath Tagore’s visit to Seattle in 1916. We’ll add updates with the timing and location of the event on our South Asia website and calendar.


Teacher Professional Development

In partnership with the Highline School District, the South Asia, Southeast Asia, and Global Studies Centers organized Cultural Competence Through Close Reading: Literature from South and Southeast Asia. This three-part series enabled teachers from a district with a diverse student population to access and utilize in their classrooms a wide variety of literature from the regions of origin of their students’ families.

Highline School District teachers during the workshop

Highline School District teachers during the workshop

The Center also partnered with the other Asia Centers and the Global Studies Center at UW to present Global Asia: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, a four-part Newspapers in Education Series published in the Seattle Times, as well as workshops on this topic presented in Seattle and Tacoma by series author Professor Anand Yang.

Prof. Anand Yang leading the Global Asia: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow Series

Prof. Anand Yang leading the Global Asia:
Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow Series

In preparation for the UN International Year of Tourism and Sustainable Development, the Center co-hosted with UW’s other National Resource Centers the 2016 Community College Master Teacher Institute, the theme of which was Global Tourism: A Multidisciplinary Perspective. We also conducted a competition for Community College Curriculum Development Grants. We are delighted to have made three awards for courses focusing entirely or partially on South Asia to faculty at Yakima, Tacoma, and Ocean County Community Colleges.

We will continue with all three workshops in AY 2016-17.

Thank You, and Looking Forward to Another Great Year

Thank you for your interest in South Asia Center activities. We will have many great events in 2016-2017, and hope to see you at some of them. Please follow us on Facebook and Twitter,<@UWSouthAsia> and check our website for updates and new activities.

-Sunila S. Kale, Director                                                                                         -Keith Snodgrass, Managing Director