Coping with COVID-19

Sai Bhatawadekar (Director, Center for South Asian Studies) interviews Astad Deboo – a renowned and innovative dancer-choreographer from India who combines Kathak, Kathakali, and Contemporary Dance. He has worked with great artists worldwide, including Pina Bausch. He and three of his dancers – Shamsul, Govind, and Pradeep – talk about their new project – Boundaries – dedicated to migrant workers feeling cornered and yet breaking away with hope and determination. The project and interview also reveal their process of choreography during COVID isolation. 
The interview and Sai’s editing of it aim to be decolonial and non-elitist, letting voices be heard in their own language and bodies seen in their earnest expression. This video is part of the Center’s initiative “आईना | Mirror : Reflecting South Asia in Hawaii, Asia-Pacific, and Beyond” that she started last year; the current theme is “Coping with COVID”. 
You can watch the interview here.

Creative Language Learning in Quarantine!
Sai Bhatawadekar’s beginning Hindi-Urdu student, Zain Jabbar, a Mathematics major undergraduate student, delivers his poem of self-discovery. Sai always does creative projects in class, and the students’ ideas never fail to touch her with their profound simplicity.
Special tip of the hat to Aditi Jagdale, whose German video project was mind-blowing! Also, Azeema Faizunnisa, who is happy to lose herself in word quests!

Our Director Sai Bhatawadekar interviews her Hindi student Chihiro Shuto, undergraduate Business major at University of Hawaii.
Chihiro shares her experiences and opinions of COVID-19 and how she has been coping with the changing times. This interview was the final project of Spring 2020 Hindi 102 class at University of Hawaii, where Sai Bhatawadekar teaches with her Creative Project-Process-and-Performance Based approach.


If you would like to contribute to Coping with COVID – video series, see the following message from our Director, Sai Bhatawadekar:

Dear all, 

I hope you are well, healthy, and safe, and congratulations on surviving this very difficult semester. The Center for South Asian Studies is starting a multilingual video series to document how you are coping with COVID. We want to solicit short videos – about 5 mins – from South Asia faculty, students, and community speaking earnestly about what matters to you the most during these difficult times. You may also want to show your activities or share creative work and art pieces that express how you are dealing with the crisis. The topics can be as personal, political, and/or place-based as you like, for example but not limited to: 

Coping with COVID in Hawaii and Asia-Pacific 
Teaching with compassion
New perspectives and changes in your research; how your work has helped you or how you have rethought your theses and methods (e.g. pandemic and indigeneity/ migration/ performance arts/ philosophy/ technology/ etc.
Perspectives on leadership 

Online existence/ existentialism / Onlinihilism! (ooh, I just coined that one) 
Socio-political situation in South Asia
Work-family balance during lock-downs
Community building 
Mental and physical health, safety, security  
Role of the arts during pandemics
Race, gender, privilege 
Memento Mori 
What matters to you most in these difficult times 

The video can be taken anywhere (at home or location you choose), with or without mask, on phone/computer; it can be you alone or with family or in a (zoom) interview with someone. We want to encourage you to speak in a South Asian language (your first, second, or language of your work) and briefly summarize what was said in English at the end or add subtitles. 

The videos will be posted and highlighted on the Center’s web and social media pages. They will increase your visibility in the research and art communities across the world and create opportunities to collaborate and cope together. 

Please upload your videos here and send email to and to let us know that you have submitted your piece. Please submit by June 15th, 2020. We are accepting and posting your work on a rolling basis starting now. 

Thank you! With best wishes for your health and safety, 

Talks by Dr. Razak Khan – October 8th and 9th

Please join us for two talks by Razak Khan (PhD) on October 8th and 9th. These talks are part of the Rama Watumull Collaborative Lecture Series (RWCLS) of the Center for South Asian Studies (CSAS). Feel free to share this announcement within your networks. These events are free and open to public.

We look forward to seeing you!

Dr. Razak Khan is a Research Fellow at The Erlangen Centre for Islam and Law in Europe (EZIRE) Friedrich–Alexander University Erlangen–Nürnberg. He studied Modern Indian History at the University of Delhi and was awarded a DPhil from the Berlin Graduate School Muslim Cultures and Societies (BGSMCS), Freie Universität, Berlin in 2014. Subsequently, he was a postdoctoral fellow at the Centre for the History of Emotions at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin and Centre for Modern Indian Studies, Göttingen University. His current research project is titled “Minor Cosmopolitanism: Politics of Education, National Integration and Minority Citizenship in the Life and Writings of Syed Abid Husain (1896-1978).”and examines the entangled history of Muslim and German-Jewish intellectualism. He has edited a special issue of the Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient (58:5, 2015). He has also published blog posts and commentaries in the TRAFO – Blog for Transregional Research and Economic and Political Weekly and several book reviews. He is completing a book, Minority Pasts: Locality, Emotions, and Identities in Rampur, for Oxford University Press, Global.