South Asia Studies

The South Asia region is the new vibrant center of global transformation, carrying with it the hopes and challenges of a fourth of humanity. South Asia is an inclusive term that encompasses the tremendous richness of regional cultures and peoples in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Afghanistan, and the Maldives and their overseas communities.

South Asia Studies at ME/SA and UC Davis is a close-knit community of interdisciplinary scholars in the social sciences and humanities that combine expertise in the histories, languages, literatures, arts, religions, ecologies, cities, and cultures of South Asia and its extensive overseas communities around the world. Today, more than 100 UC Davis faculty members enjoy research and educational ties with South Asia, many of whom are experts in the study of the region.  UC Davis students can enroll in almost 50 courses on South Asia in the humanities, social sciences, and languages (Arabic, Hindi/Urdu and Persian). UC Davis enjoys an active student body, with numerous Indian, Sikh, Pakistani, and Afghan and other student organizations on campus that organize various speaker and cultural events, who are eager for further studies of South Asia.

Faculty have been working steadily for the past 15 years to build South Asia Studies through the India/South Asia lecture series, the South Asia Matters initiative  and extensive programming through the Mellon “Reimagining Indian Ocean Worlds”  initiative (2015-2018). South Asia faculty at ME/SA are also part of “South Asia by the Bay consortium” including Stanford, Berkeley, UCSC, and Davis. The Fifth South Asia by the Bay graduate student conference on Indian Ocean Worlds was hosted by ME/SA in spring 2016 even though ME/SA does not yet have a graduate program. It is proof of the great interest of graduate students here in South Asia Studies. ME/SA is home to the Pioneering Punjabis Digital Archive launched in 2016 that documents the contributions of the Punjabi South Asian community in Northern California.

The “South Asia without Borders” Initiative was launched in 2016 to offer UC Davis students and the community more opportunities to learn about this dynamic and complex region and its people (see events list for 2016-2017). It builds on and consolidates previous efforts to focus on South Asia at ME/SA.  In the next 10 years, we seek to enrich the learning experiences of our students, provide faculty and graduate students with opportunities to conduct meaningful research, and build an international network of scholars committed to this critical region.