South Asia Initiative

To build upon the growing interest in South Asia both on the campus and throughout the region, the Asian Studies Center at the University of Pittsburgh will showcase the university’s new area of strength with three years of thematic programming. These programs will include invited speakers, film screenings, exhibitions, mini-courses, roundtable forums, and much more. Through these programs, the Center hopes to facilitate communication and collaboration between students and faculty and provide opportunities for more active engagement with the local community.

Year One: 2016-2017

India and Pakistan at 70: Aspirations and Speculations

2017 marks the 70th anniversary of Indian and Pakistani independence. Instead of retrospective biographies of these two countries, we take this moment to examine how the future is imagined and implemented across the Indian subcontinent. Through a dynamic speaker series we examine how fields ranging from film to finance and art to infrastructure aspire towards, speculate about, and attempt to shape possible futures. Lectures and discussions offer opportunities to learn about life in contemporary South Asia and to consider possibilities for creation and transformation.

2017 speaker series:

January 27:

Lawrence Liang, The Liminal Worlds of Law and Crime in Indian Cinema
12 PM in 501 Cathedral of Learning


Feburary 3

Jonathan Shapiro Anjariya: Striving in Excess: Remaking Persons and Objects in India's New Athletic Cultures
3 p.m. in 4130 Posvar Hall


February 17

Dr. Kajri Jain: Unruly Futurities: Temporality, Scale and Speculation in Modi's Statue of Unity
3 p.m. in 4130 Posvar Hall


February 22

20/20 Vision Film Screening: India After Independence and I Am 20

Discussant: Dr. Emily Rook-Koepsel

6 p.m. in 4130 Posvar Hall


February 24

Dr. Bhaskar Sarkar, Futurities at the Border
3 p.m. in 4130 Posvar Hall


March 22

Members of the Pittsburgh Sikh Gurdwara, How to Asia: Turban Wrapping

3 p.m. in 4130 Posvar Hall

Year Two: 2017-2018

Devouring South Asia: Appetites, Cuisines, and Health

Our second thematic year combines Pittsburgh's expertise in medicine and publich health with questions about the history and politics of cuisine. We invite you to savor guest lectures and film screenings examining South Asian diets and appetities. Year two of the initiative will conclude with a special event that will promote recent student work and relish the place of South Asian cuisine in Pittsburgh and global imagination.

Year Three: 2018-2019

New Maps of South Asia: Art, Design, and New Media

How do communication technologies, such as mobile phones, social media, posters, radio, and newspapers help to redefine political participation, personal style, and forms of belonging in South Asia? In our third thematic year, we will examine how media remaps South Asia as a social and geographic space. The year will open with an exhibition highlighting South Asian art and design that draws on new digital technologies. Our speaker series considers how new media forms transform ways of being and belonging both within South Asia and in broader transnational context.

To find out more, please contact