About South Asia Collaborative

The South Asia Collaborative includes faculty and administrators dedicated to raising awareness of South Asian scholarship, culture, and engagement opportunities for the JMU community. 

Mission Statement

The mission of the South Asia Collaborative is to promote curricula, programs, and events around the topic of South Asia (at home or abroad) as well as connect JMU students, faculty, and staff to the rich and complex heritage of this part of the world.

Vision Statement

We hope to strengthen our partnerships with the JMU community and increase student and faculty involvement and awareness of the South Asia Collaborative at JMU.

For more information, please contact Felix Wang at wangch@jmu.edu. 


Table of JMU faculty names and email addresses involved with the South Asia Collaborative

Emily Akerson


Carol Lena Miller


Edward Brantmeier  


Steve Purcell    


Liam Buckley


Ayasakanta Rout  


Laura Desportes  


Erika Sawin  


Lincoln Gray  


Anne Stewart  


Shah Hanifi  


Louise Temple-Rosebrook


Spencer Leonard  


Bisi Velayudhan  


Smita Mathur


Felix Wang


Jaclyn Michael  


JMU On-Campus Organizations

Bhangra Dance Club

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

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 difficult time adjusting to life in Harrisonburg.


Each year the Indian Student Organization (ISO) brings Holi from India to JMU by hosting the festival (typically on the Hillside Lawn). See their Facebook page for more details. 

Gandhi Center

The Gandhi Center is an organization within the Justice Studies Department at JMU that works to promote justice and nonviolence through education, scholarship, and engagement. It hosts a variety of programs aimed at involving faculty, staff, students, as well as the local and international communities in receiving and spreading Indian values of non-violence through learning and community engagement.

Academic Highlights

Dr. Debali Mookerjea-Leonard’s research focuses on Indian literature, cinema, and gender. She is an associate professor in JMU’s English department and is the coordinator of the World Literature minor.

Dr. Liam Buckley, a cultural Anthropology professor in JMU’s Sociology and Anthropology department, specializes in ethnographic methods and visual Anthropology. He conducts some of his research in India.

Dr. Sushil Mittal is a Religion professor at JMU. Trained in cultural anthropology, he teaches classes about Hindu religion and Gandhian thought. Some of his publications include Development and Change in India and Surprising Bedfellows: Hindus and Muslims in Medieval and Early Modern India.

Dr. Shah Mahmoud Hanifi studies the Middle East, primarily Afghanistan, in JMU’s history department. He also conducts comparative studies regarding the overlapping histories of the Middle East and South Asia. Dr. Hanifi hosted the 2017 Elphinstone Conference in Mumbai, India (see below).

*Please refer to each professor’s JMU profile (linked) to find out more about their research.

Study at JMU

Asian Studies Minor

The Asian Studies minor is an interdisciplinary minor at JMU focusing on world regions including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Kashmir, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. The program aims for students to gain a broad, inclusive sense of South Asia and the surrounding region that transcends national, religious, and ethnic boundaries.

Religious Studies: Track One, Eastern Traditions

The Philosophy and Religions department at JMU offers four tracks in Religious studies. The first being Eastern Traditions. This concentration focuses on exploring Gandhian thought, Hindu & Buddhist traditions, East Asian religion, and Islam in South Asia. The other three tracks are Western Traditions, Biblical Studies and Theology, and Religion & Society.

Study Abroad Programs

Students can study abroad in South Asia through JMU’s external exchange and internship programs. Please contact the Center for Global Engagement or visit their program page for more information. 

International Organizations and Conferences

Council of American Overseas Research Centers (CAORC)

CAORC is a group of organizations that includes the Association of Nepal and Himalayan Studies (ANHS)American Institute of India Studies (AIIS)and the American Institute of Afghanistan Studies (AIAS). These organizations provide support for international research projects that focus on conserving and recording cultural heritage, as well as understanding and interpreting modern societies. CAORC and AIAS provided support for the JMU-organized Elphinstone Conference.

Elphinstone Institute

In April 2017, JMU History Professor Shah Hanifi hosted a highly successful working conference in Mumbai, India at Elphinstone College. The conference hosted many 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 India (he eventually became governor of Bombay), Mountstuart Elphinstone opened several educational institutions.

Back to Top