South Asian Studies at Stanford

The Center for South Asia facilitates teaching and learning about the South Asian subcontinent, which encompasses the nations of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, and Sri Lanka. Specialists in Anthropology, Drama, Economics, Education, History, Literature, Music, Political Science, and Religious Studies among others comprise the faculty of CSA. The Center works with departments and other university units, as well as with student and community groups, toward the goals of increasing faculty strength, supporting research, expanding course offerings, building the library collection, and presenting programs and events.

The Center for South Asia at Stanford aims to promote the study of South Asia in a manner that reflects the position of the region in the world today. Our focus is on the colonial-modern and contemporary post-colonial South Asia.

South Asia is today an intimate and instantaneous part of our everyday global reality and cannot be studied as a self-contained area. South Asia is of critical importance in the world economy, South Asian communities and professionals are a significant presence in many parts of the world, and South Asian cultural production and aesthetics are firmly embedded in the global imagination and in the global marketplace. The long-term ambition of Center for South Asia is to give Stanford students and faculty access to world-class resources, cutting-edge research and a broad range of teaching on South Asia.

Our main intellectual ambition is to ensure that South Asia is a place from where modernity can be conceptualized in all its historical complexity. We want to ensure that debates and reflections on central categories of modern thought – capitalism, liberal democracy, the reflexive subject, jurisprudence and law, popular mass culture and its institutions, aesthetic cultures, the state, the public life of religion – include South Asia as a self-evident ground rather than merely a special case. We want to ensure that the vast storehouse of South Asia material, concerns, problems, and history become integral parts of the curriculum and research profiles of as many departments and programs as possible at Stanford in the future. Put simply, our task is to overcome the ‘methodological nationalism’ implicit in the area studies model while retaining the respect for specificity and depth of South Asian history and cultural complexity.

CSA applies a broad and flexible idea of what constitutes South Asia as an object of study. South Asia can be an element in broader comparative work; the site of detailed ethnographic and historical work; South Asian communities in the US and elsewhere in the world; or South Asia as integral to a global literary-aesthetic horizon.

CSA features speakers and events that are grounded in South Asian experience but engage broader theoretical and comparative concerns across disciplines. We encourage strong departmental and disciplinary ownership of all South Asia related appointments. We aim at being a partner in a variety of cross-disciplinary initiatives around larger intellectual themes across campus, as well as with the Abbasi program in Islamic studies, East Asia, Urban Studies, the Stanford Humanities Center, Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity and other interdisciplinary programs at Stanford.

CSA collaborates with other South Asia Centers in the Bay Area around academic conferences, the South Asia Arts Collective and an annual graduate student conference was launched in 2012.


In Other News:

2016 Center for South Asia Photo Contest: Please send entries to kgoulet [at] stanford [dot] edu and include photo title and category selection 

Call for Papers

Annual Conference on South Asia
Center for South Asia, UW-Madison
October 20-23, 2016
**Call for Papers** 
India as Bharat: Histories, Controversies, Futures
What is “Bharat”? What does its deployment suggest about the nation that “India” does not (and for whom)? A term lifted from ancient Hindu texts, “Bharat” was, ironically, decreed in the Indian Constitution to be the genuine name of the secular democracy and remains the preferred referent for India among its majority Hindu population. As suggested by the 2014 success of the BJP, “Bharat” is indeed far more than a name, representing a desirable goal for India’s future as a magnificent Hindu nation on par with major world powers. This panel examines “Bharat” as an aspirational identity for India, one that is unfettered by national borders, histories of corruption, and conventional codes of citizenship. We invite papers that explore the following questions
  • How can we historicize the idea of India as Bharat? In what ways is the conception contrived and reproduced? What is the role of language in perpetuating and naturalizing the idea among different groups?
  • How does Bharat live and thrive in India now and how might this be different from past articulations? Does it resonate strongly in certain provinces or regions? In cities or villages? How might expressions differ within India compared to broader South Asia or the diaspora?
  • How does the idea of Bharat challenge India’s espoused commitment to secularism and its democratic institutions? How might Bharat lurk behind controversies such as the suppression of student civil liberties or violence against Muslims suspected of eating beef?
  • What is the relation between Bharat and Bharat Mata? How might we contextualize the gendered language of danger to Bharat Mata and the urgent need to protect her as it is invoked in contemporary politics? 
  • Can we imagine an India that exists independently of Bharat?
Please send 250-word proposals to Monika Bhagat-Kennedy and Claire Robinson by Friday, March 18:  mbkenne [at] sas [dot] upenn [dot] edu , crobinson [at] lckark [dot] edu
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The Center for South Asia is part of the Stanford Global Studies Division (SGS). See the SGS website for more information.