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News Category: News

Partition Stories: Collection and Analysis of Oral Narratives

This project is a part of a larger research study called, Looking Back, Informing the Future – The 1947 Partition of British India.

Goals of the Partition Stories Project:

  • Preserve and enrich the historical knowledge of Partition in crowd proportions,
  • Discover the different yet merging perspectives of the largest migration in history,
  • Analyze the past and prevailing rhetoric surrounding the Partition,
  • Provide free access to the stories through the Harvard SAI Partition portal.

The project is being co-led by Karim Lakhani, Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, and Tarun Khanna, Harvard SAI Director; Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor, Harvard Business School.

The three month pilot phase included a collection of 350 stories from the sub-continent and United States. The preliminary analysis can be viewed in Professor Khanna’s presentation at the World Economic Forum in China, this summer.

The project hopes to contribute to the scholarship around the events that led to the largest involuntary migration in recent history. In addition, it will inform scholarship about, and policies related to, other such societal schisms, subsequent to that time, and those occurring today.

We aim to collect stories, reflections, memories, or experiences through crowdsourcing as well as through an online survey.

You can share your story here.

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GSAS Research Workshop: Borders in Modern Asia

There has never been a more critical time for studying borders. Contemporary political events across the world have awakened us to their direct presence in our lives. For scholars in the humanities and social sciences, borders are particularly rich sites for critically examining a variety of questions, from the global flow of capital to everyday practices of border-crossing.

Recognizing the political and academic exigencies of our times, the new GSAS Research Workshop “Borders in Modern Asia” will be a forum for critically synthesizing works on border making and border crossing in terrestrial and maritime Asia. Throughout the year, the program will host a range of graduate students and senior scholars whose work address this theme. We use the term “modern” loosely to indicate the period from the eighteenth century to the present day, but we shall be open to incorporating innovative work on such themes even before this period. Within this broad historical framework, we will welcome papers that adopt a variety of perspectives and disciplinary methodologies, including but not limited to archival work, textual analysis, the use of visual and material cultures, and ethnography.

Borders in Modern Asia, capaciously understood for our purposes, geographically encompass both terrestrial and oceanic frontiers within and around the Asiatic landmass. Focusing on “Modern Asia” also transcends the boundaries of area studies which divide academia. This is a border-crossing urgently needed in our field. Disciplinary training continues to sector our fields into “South Asia,” “South-east Asia,” “East Asia,” “the Middle East,” and the like, and nothing can be more unfortunate. A growing number of graduate students naturally feel frustrated and dissatisfied with such divisions. We therefore invite papers from disciplines including, but certainly not limited to, History, Anthropology, History of Science, Political Science, Literature, Sociology and all the area studies programs. Papers can creatively address several issues related to borders, including territoriality, ecology, political economy, resources, sovereignty, national and ethnic identity. The workshop emphasizes thematic convergence over an “area studies” approach.

Graduate Students interested in presenting papers over the 2017-18 session should contact Aniket De (, at the earliest possible. Please note that the audience will be thematically oriented and regionally diverse, so papers should be prepared to address implications beyond their immediate fields.

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Fall class: Contemporary Developing Countries: Entrepreneurial Solutions to Social and Economic Problems in the Developing World (SW47)


The primary objective of the course is to engage students with the modern day challenges affecting developing countries, and to examine a range of entrepreneurial attempts to solve these problems.

The course focuses on several categories of social and economic problems, with specific focus on the realms of Education, Health, and Financial Inclusion.

The goal is to understand ways in which entrepreneurial action can effectively tackle major socioeconomic problems in developing countries, by combining knowledge of historical causes, qualitative and quantitative evidence, and context-specific knowledge of the commonalities and differences across nations.

The class will address all developing countries, with a significant amount of course material set in South Asia. No prior knowledge of any specific region is required.


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Fall class: (Mis)Understanding Islam Today (ANTHRO 1661/HSEMR-LE 75)

Poster (fall 2017)

This interdisciplinary course, with ​Q-scores of 4.6 and ​4.8, explores key controversies – suicide bombings, Islamism, Muslim minorities, gender, blasphemy – to understand Muslim cultures & societies, and as a tool for self-reflection.

First meeting: Wed 30​ Aug, 4-6pm (note: ​final course-time will be set according to enrolled students’ preferences; no prior familiarity with Islam required; open to all years/concentrations.)

Gen Ed credit info: ​​In addition to Anthro/NELC credit, this course ​can potentially ​off-set the following Gen Ed requirements: Societies of the World / US in the World (current GenEd), Social Science requirement (new GenEd) — check course website for details.











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Crossroads Summer Program 2017

Fifty driven, accomplished students from eleven countries in Asia, Africa and the Middle East formed the inaugural cohort of the Harvard South Asia Institute’s Crossroads Summer Program. They are all first-generation college students – the first in their families to participate in higher education, many from challenging financial circumstances – and came together in the heat of Dubai from August 11-14, 2017.

The successful cohort was an even balance of male and female students, from diverse backgrounds. There was, for example, a young woman from Quetta, a city in Pakistan with the country’s lowest female literacy rate. Another student had worked as a garbage collector to pay his school fees.

These young people face challenges that are far beyond the experience of most Harvard students; their success fulfilled one of the main goals of the program. And as the video below shows, they also managed to have a little fun along the way.

Leading scholars from Harvard led the key sessions:

  • Tarun Khanna is the Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor at the Harvard Business School and Director of the South Asia Institute at Harvard University.
  • Karim R. Lakhani is Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School, the Principal Investigator of the Crowd Innovation Lab and NASA Tournament Lab at the Harvard Institute for Quantitative Social Science and the faculty co-founder of the Harvard Business School Digital Initiative.
  • Kristin E. Fabbe is an assistant professor in the Business, Government, and International Economy Unit.

This unique program was a collaboration between the Harvard South Asia Institute, Harvard Business School Club of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and the Dubai International Financial Centre, with the support of Air Arabia, the Carlton Hotel, Dubai Future Accelerators, and Emirates Grand Hotel. It offered a fully-funded career development opportunity and introduction to top-level American university culture for students who might otherwise have their ambitions curtailed by circumstances beyond their control; with their dedication and conduct, these students showed very clearly the value of such opportunities.









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Does the Fight for Working Women’s Rights in India Leave Out Informal Workers?

Tata Trusts and Harvard University South Asia Institute (SAI) recently embarked on a collaborative journey in knowledge creation and capacity building for social and economic empowerment in India. The 18-month research project titled, Livelihood Creation in India through Social Entrepreneurship and Skill Development (beginning October 2015) was the first step in this direction. The project focused on three key areas including rural livelihood creation (emphasis on the handicrafts and handloom sectors); educational, social and economic empowerment of women; and science and technology-based interventions for poverty alleviation.

There is consensus that India’s future growth depends in part on addressing the severe current deficit in gender equality. Much work has been done to address this discrimination through legislation, social policy, grass roots organizing, educational targeting, and public sector training. Despite the imperative of higher education as a preparation for engagement in a skill based global economy, only 6% of rural girls make it to college. 46%of Indian girls are still married before they are 18, and 16% experience their first pregnancy before they are 15 years old. At the same time, sexual violence against women continues to be reported at high levels—every third Indian woman between the ages of 15 and 49 years has experienced sexual or physical violence during her lifetime. Women are severely underrepresented in leadership positions in industry, academia, and government.

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