Our Mission and Background
The Center for South Asian Studies at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa serves as an intellectual hub in the Pacific for research on and learning about a highly diverse region that encompasses Bangladesh, Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Tibet, Sri Lanka, Lakshadweep, and the Maldive Islands.
The Center’s activities enrich the university’s unique focus on Asia and the Pacific. The objective of the Center, since its creation in 1985, has been to bridge disciplinary approaches to the study of South Asia in the humanities, social sciences, and applied sciences. The Center draws on the expertise and interest of approximately forty distinguished UH system faculty whose research interests spread over all of South Asia, its neighbors, and its diasporic communities, to foster awareness within the university and the community of South Asia’s rich cultural heritage, its history, its languages, and its contemporary economic and political landscape.
The Center’s main goal is to promote interdisciplinary research on South Asia and the diaspora, and assist undergraduates as well as graduate students to develop a focus on past and present societies and cultures of South Asia. Currently, Sanskrit, Hindi, Urdu, and Persian are offered through the Department of Indo-Pacific Languages and Literatures. Faculty may offer other South Asian languages, such as Nepali, Marathi, or Bengali, as independent studies, and students are encouraged to pursue study abroad and summer programs to improve their South Asian language abilities. Faculty interests and the Center’s activities also pay attention to the South Asian diaspora, particularly the one in the Pacific—in Fiji and Australia. The South Asia Collection at Hamilton Library is one of the oldest in the country and offers an impressive array of books and journals in South Asian languages.
South Asia has been an academic focus at the University of Hawai‘i for over fifty years, beginning with the establishment of the Oriental Institute in 1935 and a still ongoing series of East-West Philosophers’ Conferences in 1939. This emphasis continued with the establishment of the journal, Philosophy East and West, in 1951, and the Asian Studies Program. The Center for South Asian Studies was created in 1985.