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India Collaborative at James Madison University

The India Collaborative at JMU includes twenty-plus faculty and administrators dedicated to promoting curricula, programs and events around the topic of India and South Asia (at home and abroad). Our aim is to connect JMU students, faculty and staff more efficiently to the rich and complex cultural heritage of this important part of the world. If you are interested in joining our meetings, please contact Lee Sternberger at

JMU On-Campus Organizations

Bhangra Dance Group
Bhangra is a JMU student organization that performs the traditional Indian dance from Punjab region of South Asia and incorporates Western musical technology and visual sensibilities.

South Asian Student Association (SASA)
The organization’s purpose is to spread awareness of South Asian cultures and histories at JMU and provide a platform to raise funds to support poor families in South Asia.

Indian Student Organization
The purpose of this organization is to create awareness about Indian culture in a manner that genuinely represents the diversity and growth while disproving false stereotypes. To achieve these results the organization will hold events, including fundraising events for Indian non-profit organizations, and assist incoming international students from India who are having a hard time adjusting to life in Harrisonburg.

Gandhi Center
Gandhi Center is an organization that works to promote justice and nonviolence through education, scholarship and engagement. It is classified under the Justice Studies Department at JMU and offers a variety of programs to involve faculty, staff, students and the local and international community in receiving and spreading awareness of nonviolent means through learning and community engagement.

Academic Highlights

Literature, Gender, and the Trauma of Partition: The Paradox of Independence
JMU Professor, Dr. Debali Mookerjea-Leonard, recently published a book entitled Literature, Gender, and the Trauma of Partition: The Paradox of Independence.  This book examines neglected narratives of the Partition of India in 1947, particularly from the Bengal region, to study the traces left by this foundational trauma on the national- and regional-cultural imaginaries in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.  

As an Associate Professor of English, Dr. Debali Mookerjea-Leonard teaches courses on world literature, Asian-American literature, and literatures of the Indian sub-continent. Her published research focuses on Indian literature, cinema, and gender. Dr. Mookerjea-Leonard also serves as co-director for JMU's India Study Abroad program. 

Study at JMU

South Asian Studies (SAS) Minor 
SAS is an upcoming interdisciplinary minor at JMU focusing on the world region that includes Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Kashmir, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. The program is premised on a broad and inclusive sense of South Asia that transcends any single national, religious, ethnic or disciplinary frame of reference. 

Study Abroad Programs

Tropical Mammology in South India
In this study abroad program, students learn about tropical mammals, especially large mammals such as elephants, and understand the animal husbandry practices in rural and urban areas of Southern India. The students gain a hands-on experience as they visit to field locations, local farms, shadow clinical procedures at animal hospitals, and also interact with local farmers and agricultural experts to gain a deeper understanding of behavioral patterns of tropical mammals as well as management practices of animals in captivity. Students will also attend seminars and lectures at Kerala Veterinary and Animal Science University. This program is directed by Bisi Velayudhan and Pradeep Vasudevan of the James Madison University Biology department.

International Organizations and Conferences

Council of American Overseas Research Centers (CAORC)
CAORC is a group of organizations that includes American Institute of India Studies (AIIS) and American Institute of Afghanistan Studies (AIAS). It fosters and provides support for international research projects that focus on conserving and recording cultural heritage and understanding and interpreting modern societies. CAORC and AIAS provided support for JMU-organized Elphinstone Conference.

Elphinstone Conference
In April 2017, JMU History Professor Shah Hanifi hosted a highly successful working conference in Mumbai, ndia at Elphinstone College. The conference hosted a number of local and international scholars as they explored the works and significance of The Hon Mountstuart Elphinstone FRSE, who was a Scottish statesman and historian, associated with the government of British India. He later became the Governor of Bombay (now Mumbai) where he is credited with the opening of several educational institutions accessible to the Indian population. Besides being a noted administrator, he wrote books on India and Afghanistan. 

The dual objectives of the conference are to reappraise the cultural, intellectual and scientific parameters of colonialism in South Asia as they were engaged and articulated by Mountstuart Elphinstone (1779-1859), and to examine the historical development and contemporary expressions of the colonial knowledge formations Elphinstone represents across the nation-states comprising this world region today. The inaugural conference was hosted in London in November of 2015 and was funded by the Carnegie Corporation, James Madison University, the American Institute of Indian Studies, among other organizations. The Conference focused on Mountstuart Elphinstone and the Mediation of Global Forces and Local Agencies: Colonial Knowledge, National Histories and Public Higher Education in South Asia. The conference will next move to a higher education institution in Pakistan. 

Past Events

Visiting Scholars from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, India
Mon, 07 Nov 2016 4:00 - 5:30 PM in the College of Health and Behavioral Studies Building Room 5040

Join us for brief remarks and conversation with Professors Konatambigi and Joshi.  Professor Aprana Joshi will speak about the unserved and unattended mental health needs in India, and the role of psycho-social telephone counseling service in the context of community mental health in India.  Professor Konantambigi will describe the values and ethos that influence the challenges faced by children living in urban and rural India, including "street children" and children and teens in institutions.

Erika Sawin: Teaching in India as a Fulbright-Nehru Scholar
Tue, 13 Oct 2015 12:30 PM - 2:00 PM | Student Success Center room 1075

Erika Metzler Sawin just returned from spending six months in Puducherry, India, where she taught nursing and public health at Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research (JIPMER). Erika will share her experiences living with her family in Puducherry, teaching, and forming relationships with her JIPMER colleagues. She will describe how the experience of being a Fulbright-Nehru Scholar has affected her life professionally and personally.

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