The Center accomplishes its mission through the following activities:


The annual Spring symposium puts together panels and invited lectures on a particular theme.  The symposium, made possible by the G. J. and Ellen Watumull Memorial Fund, is free and open to the public. Recent symposium themes include South Asian diasporas; South Asian notions of indigeneity and belonging; the environmental movement; violence and terror; media, culture and democracy; the senses; decolonization; borders and migration; and community building.



The series features speakers from universities and institutions across the world. The center sends out a call for proposals in the Fall semester to invite departments at UHM to apply for funds that would enable them to bring scholars with an expertise in South Asian studies or South Asia-related topics. The series engages various disciplines at UH with scholarship being produced in and about South Asia in order to enhance the department’s interest in this region.  Recent visitors have come from Cambridge University, Macquarie University, the University of Texas, Austin, the University of California, Los Angeles, Indiana University, and Ford Foundation to present in linguistics, philosophy, history, religion, anthropology, political science, sociology, and cultural studies. The awards and the lecture series is made possible by the Rama Watumull Indian Scholar Endowment. (Photo above: Dr. Dhrubesh Chandra Regmi performs on sitar along with Anna Stirr and Ram Singh, in an event sponsored by the RWCLS).



The Rama Watumull Indian Scholar Endowment enables CSAS to host the visit of a distinguished scholar from India to a UH department every two years. The Center invites nominations from departments at UHM.  The Rama Watumull Distinguished Indian Scholars Program was established on December 11, 1986, in honor of Rama Watumull (1912–1953), a community and business leader, who attended the University of Hawai‘i. The program emphasizes mutual understanding between the United States and India that was epitomized by Rama Watumull’s own life in Hawai‘i. The endowment promotes a visitor’s program that provides funds to support teachers, researchers and creative artists from India at the University of Hawai‘i for a period of a semester or one year. Selection of the scholar is made by the Dean of the School of Hawaiian, Asian and Pacific Studies, upon recommendation of the Center for South Asian Studies’ Executive Committee, which serves as the Rama Watumull Endowment Committee. The recent visiting scholars have been Dr. Charu Gupta of Delhi University (Spring 2006) and M. S. S. Pandian, distinguished independent scholar based in Chennai (Spring 2008), and V. Sanil, philosopher, IIT, Delhi (Spring 2010).



The J. Watumull Scholarship for the Study of India sponsors the visit of two to three UH undergraduate and graduate students to India every year for a minimum of two months for research and instruction. Recent students who have received the scholarship have been from philosophy, geography, crisis management, history, and other disciplines.



The series features the research on South Asia being conducted by UH faculty and graduate students as well as lectures by scholars of South Asia visiting UH.




The Center for South Asian Studies initiates and supports outreach activities within the University and the wider Honolulu community.  It partners with two community-based groups Milun and Lotus.   It also works closely with the Honolulu Academy Arts  and the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art on exhibitions, film screenings, and lectures.  The Center collaborates with the UHM-based student group, Lovers of South Asian Culture.  A new initiative sponsored by the Friends of East-West Center has lead to India Seminar meant to for those who might not be familiar with the country but have a keen interest in learning about it.

All our events are open to the public, and they address a wide range of topics related to South Asian studies.  Visiting scholars and cultural performers have come to the university through long-standing endowments from the G. J. and Ellen Watumull Memorial Fund and the Rama Watumull Distinguished Indian Scholars Program. The Center for South Asian Studies’ annual Spring Symposium focuses on a selected theme and presents distinguished keynote speakers. Further, the annual Spring Symposium provides a forum for faculty and students to present their current research in a comparative and interdisciplinary setting. Past Spring Symposium participants include Robert Goldman, Ronald Herring, P. S. Jaini, Ayesha Jalal, Gananath Obeyesekere, A. K. Ramanujan, Shanaz Rouse, Kirin Narayan, Jayadeva Uyangoda, Gail Minault, Vaidya Shriram Sharma, Gerald James Larson, Osman Bakar, Gyan Prakash, Murray B. Emeneau, Bh. Krishnamurti, Norman Zide, Ashis Nandy, Netika Raval, Ashok Malhotra, Steven Collins, Arindam Chakrabarti, Sudhir Kakar, Michael Witzel, E.Valentine Daniel, Sudipta Kaviraj, Kapila Vatsyayan, Bapsi Sidhwa, mehreenn Jabbar, Urvashi Butalia, and Rimli Bhattacharya. The Center also hosts special cultural events featuring music, dance, and drama performances by South Asian artists.



An e-newsletter about the Center’s activities is published once a year and distributed to subscribers within UH, to other universities, and the public.



CSAS has put together research resources on caste in the contemporary world. The intention is to make CSAS a resource for both research on caste and access to useful pedagogical materials on the subject.

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