Click to Subscribe & Stay Informed via Email!


The Harvard University South Asia Institute (SAI) engages faculty and students through interdisciplinary programs to advance and deepen the teaching and research on global issues relevant to South Asia. 

View the South Asia Institute video.

Upcoming Events

Tue, April 29, 2014 at 07:00pm  /  Harvard Book Store

Gandhi Before India

SAI Book Talk

Ramachandra Guha, Author and Independent Scholar

Pratap Bhanu MehtaPresident of the Centre for Policy Research; Associate Professor of Government and of Social Studies, Harvard University

Cosponsored with the Harvard Book Store

Harvard Book Store welcomes award-winning author RAMACHANDRA GUHA and President of the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, PRATAP BHANU MEHTA for a discussion of Guha’s new book Ghandi Before India.

Here is a revelatory work of biography that takes us from Mohandas Gandhi’s birth in 1869 through his upbringing in Gujarat, his two years as a student in London, and his two decades as a lawyer and community organizer in South Africa. Ramachandra Guha has uncovered a myriad of previously untapped documents, including private papers of Gandhi’s contemporaries and co-workers, contemporary newspapers and court documents, the writings of Gandhi’s children, secret files kept by British Empire functionaries. Using this wealth of material in a brilliantly nuanced narrative, Guha describes the social, political, and personal worlds in which Gandhi began his journey to become the modern era’s most important and influential political actor. And Guha makes clear that Gandhi’s work in South Africa-far from being a mere prelude to his accomplishments in India-was profoundly influential on his evolution as a political thinker, social reformer, and beloved leader.

Ramachandra Guha has previously taught at Yale and Stanford universities, the University of Oslo, the Indian Institute of Science, and the London School of Economics. His books include a pioneering environmental history, an award-winning social history of cricket, and the award-winning India After Gandhi.He writes regularly on social and political issues for the British and Indian press, including columns in The Telegraph and the Hindustan Times, and also for The New York Times.

Tue, Apr 29, 2014 at 07:00pm

Tue, Apr 29, 2014

Harvard Book Store

1256 Mass Ave, Cambridge, MA 02138

Thu, May 1, 2014 from 04:00pm - 05:30pm  /  CGIS South, S153

Modern Ethnicities and Ancient Graves: The Deconstruction and Re-Analysis of the Protohistoric Cemeteries and Ethnic Origin Stories in Pakistan

South Asia Without Borders Seminar

Muhammad Zahir, SAI Aman Fellow; Lecturer, Department of Archaeology, Hazara University, Pakistan

Chair: Richard Meadow, Director of the Zooarchaeology Laboratory, Harvard Peabody Museum; Senior-Lecturer, Harvard Anthropology Department

The protohistoric cemeteries in northwestern Pakistan, commonly known as the Gandhara Grave Culture of Pakistan, have primarily been explained in terms of migrations and as an expression of particular ethnicities (e.g. Aryans) by a select group of archaeologists since early 1960s. The deconstruction of these archaeological traditions exposes their inner inconsistencies, circular arguments and shows that the past explanations of these cemeteries were more relevant to the academic and political environments of the main researchers than to the cemeteries or presumed ethnicities.

The re-analyses and interpretations of these protohistoric cemeteries show these cemeteries as part of burial traditions that transcended different geographical regions, ethnic groups and archaeological cultures, from the beginning of second millennium BC to the end of 1st millennium AD.  However, the Aryans’ story, as imagined to have been supported by hard evidence from these cemeteries, is so often repeated in the archaeology of Pakistan that it has become an archaeological factoid, which is transmitted without any questioning in research publications and research theses.  This, in turn, has supported the identification of their biological and cultural successors in different modern ethnic groups in Pakistan, for example the Pathans, and has become an integral part of their origin stories.

Thu, May 1, 2014 at 04:00pm

Thu, May 1, 2014 at 05:30pm

CGIS South, S153
Harvard University

1730 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA 02138

Mon, May 5, 2014 - Wed, May 7, 2014  /  CGIS South

Design for Urban Disaster: Response – Resilience – Transformation Conference

Cosponsored with Harvard University Graduate School of Design; Oxford Brookes University School of Architecture; Harvard University South Asia Institute; Habitat for Humanity; International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies; Harvard Humanitarian Initiative


Mon, May 5, 2014 from 06:00pm - 07:30pm  /  CGIS South, S030

The Past Before Us: Historical Traditions of Early North India

SAI Book Talk

Romila Thapar, Emeritus Professor of History at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi

Chair: Emma Dench, Professor of the Classics and of History, Harvard College Professor, Director of Graduate Studies, Department of the Classics, Harvard University

The claim, often made, that India—uniquely among civilizations—lacks historical writing distracts us from a more pertinent question, according to Romila Thapar: how to recognize the historical sense of societies whose past is recorded in ways very different from European conventions. In The Past Before Us, a distinguished scholar of ancient India guides us through a panoramic survey of the historical traditions of North India. Thapar reveals a deep and sophisticated consciousness of history embedded in the diverse body of classical Indian literature.

Mon, May 5, 2014 at 06:00pm

Mon, May 5, 2014 at 07:30pm

CGIS South, S030
Harvard University

1730 Cambridge Street
Cambridge MA 02138

Wed, May 7, 2014 from 04:00pm - 06:00pm  /  CGIS South, S050

Slum Health: Suffering and Survival in a Setting of Legal Exclusion

A billion people, or one-seventh of the world’s population, now live in slums in developing country cities. Mumbai, India, possibly has the world’s largest population of slum dwellers: 50-60% of its population lives in informal settlements on <9% of the city’s land area. A significant proportion of those slum residents live in “non-notified” settlements that lack any legal recognition, resulting in their exclusion from formal municipal services such as water, sanitation, and electricity. From 2009 to 2012, a team of researchers from PUKAR (a Mumbai-based research collective), the Harvard School of Public Health, and NYU engaged in an interdisciplinary project investigating health in a non-notified slum of 14,000 people. With support from the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard, several new findings have emerged from these data in the last year that the research team wishes to disseminate to the public. This event will consist of a few short presentations of original research findings followed by reflections on the findings by professors from the Harvard School of Public Health and Harvard Graduate School of Design.


“Why Illegality is Deadly”
Ramnath Subbaraman, PUKAR; Research Fellow in Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital.

“A Novel Household Coding System and GPS Mapping for Facilitating Research and Advocacy”
Dana Thomson, Research Associate in Global Health and Social Medicine, Harvard Medical School.

“Water Poverty in Slums: A Social Ecological Framework”
Alpen Sheth, PhD Candidate, Department of Urban Studies and Planning, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“Measuring Water Poverty: Insights from Kaula Bandar”
Laura Nolan, PhD Candidate in the Office of Population Research, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University.

“Does Living in a Slum Take a Psychological Toll? Evidence and Reflections on Social Suffering in our Urbanizing World”
Ramnath Subbaraman, PUKAR; Research Fellow in Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital.

Reflections and Conversation:

David Bloom, Clarence James Gamble Professor of Economics and Demography, Department of Global Health and Population, Harvard School of Public Health.

Rahul Mehrotra Chair, Department of Urban Planning and Design; Professor of Urban Design and Planning, Harvard Graduate School of Design.

Cosponsored with the Harvard Weatherhead Center for International Affairs 


Wed, May 7, 2014 at 04:00pm

Wed, May 7, 2014 at 06:00pm

CGIS South, S050
Harvard University

1730 Cambridge Street
Cambridge MA

Thu, May 8, 2014 from 08:30am - 10:00am  /  CGIS Knafel, K354

Webinar: Women in Politics: The Case of India

SAI Webinar

Lakshmi Iyer, Associate Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School

Women lag behind men on many metrics across the world (health, education, wages), including political representation. Professor Iyer will discuss two major questions:
•Does electing women to political office make any difference?
•Given that women comprise only 21.4% of national parliaments across the world, how can women’s representation in political office be increased?

She will review some of her work based on data from India on both of these questions. The results are relevant both for other countries and for other disadvantaged groups.

8:30 AM in Cambridge, 5:30 PM in Pakistan, 6 PM in India, 6:30 PM in Sri Lanka & Bangladesh

 Join the Facebook group.

Submit your questions on Facebook and on Twitter using the hashtag #SAIWebinar.

The live stream of the webinar will be posted on SAI’s website on May 8.

Thu, May 8, 2014 at 08:30am

Thu, May 8, 2014 at 10:00am

CGIS Knafel, K354
Harvard University

1737 Cambridge Street,
Cambridge, MA

Sat, June 14, 2014

Globalization and Sustainability of Bangladesh Garment Industry

Bangladesh Development Conference 2014 

The objective of this year’s seminar is to explore the linkages among development, garment sector and environmental health and safety issues in low-income economies, with a focus on Bangladesh.  It will highlight the actors and factors that impinge on this linkage at national and global levels. The deliberation will explore how the development partners can more effectively facilitate and assist in solving the key problems for sustaining the competitiveness of the Bangladesh garment industry. How to enhance the role of international community and experts for practical solutions will be a topic of discussion.

The seminar plans to bring together experts, industry people, NGO representatives and practitioners from development agencies and high level policy makers from Bangladesh and USA. Participants will include representatives from Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA), workers rights groups, international organizations such as the ILO, United Nations Agencies, and representatives from international financial institutions.

The organizing committee welcomes papers and presentations dealing with aspects of the global economy, garment industry, trade and development in the context of Bangladesh garments and apparel industry and the role of international community and development partners.

The day-long seminar is being organized jointly by SAI, Harvard University Center for Environment and International Sustainable Development Institute (ISDI), Inc. and South Asian students and professionals at Harvard Medical School, HSPH, Harvard Law School and Harvard College.

For further information, please contact:
Mohammed Iqbal Yousuf, Coordinator

Sat, Jun 14, 2014

Sat, Jun 14, 2014


Call for proposals: Regional Symposium on Extreme Weather, Disasters, and Indigenous Practices in South Asia

A day-long symposium sponsored by the American Overseas Research Centers (CAORC) in Madison, Wisconsin, October 16, 2014. In the study of extreme weather and disasters, there is a common thread that sews together the patchwork of South Asia. This regional symposium proposed for 2014 will bring together scientists, planners, and scholars of social science and humanities to examine the best available projections highlighting the impact of extreme weather and possible responses to it. Submit proposals by Friday, May 16, 2014.

    SAI Annual Symposium

    SAI’s Annual Symposium, ”South Asia Regionalism: Workshops on Shared Challenges and the Way Forward’ will take the form of workshops to highlight’s SAI’s ongoing multi-year interfaculty research projects. April 24 & 25, 2014, Charles Hotel, Cambridge, MA.

      Job opportunity: [HYP]e Delhi

      [HYP]e aims to broaden access to the top American universities by providing motivated Indian students an extraordinary learning experience with the best tutors in the world. This is a job for creative thinkers and brilliant communicators.

        ‘A pool for do-gooders’ by Tarun Khanna

        Tarun Khanna, Director of the South Asia Institute & Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor, Harvard Business School, wrote an op-ed in The Indian Express about corporate social responsibility, arguing that targeted investments should be driven by a knowledge of how CSR fits into company strategy.

          Contribute to Story South Asia

          Story South Asia, is a media startup focused on South Asian, and they are looking for contributors to write opinion pieces about South Asia. They are looking for opinion-editorials, travel pieces, book reviews, columns, interviews with pertinent people from the region,and blogposts.

            Brandeis seeks lecturer for South Asian Studies Program

            The Programs in Religious Studies and South Asian Studies at Brandeis University seek to hire a Lecturer to teach a course on Hinduism or Religions in South Asia—or another related course in the instructor’s specialty—in the fall of 2014. Candidates must have a PhD or be an advanced doctoral student and have previous teaching experience