South Asia Institute
South Asia Institute

Faculty Advisory Committee

The primary governing body for SAI is an elected faculty advisory committee (FAC) that follows the by-laws in SAI’s governing document. Elections for two-year terms take place each summer. The FAC reflects diversity of rank, discipline, college affiliation, and gender, and meets once each semester to review the working of SAI, its budget, and plans for program development. The Institute's voting member list is updated each academic year, in consultation with the FAC. In addition, the Director, through personal meetings and online communication, keeps all faculty affiliates aware of programs and strategic initiatives.

2021-2022 Committee

Kamran Ali, Professor, Anthropology

Kamran AliKamran Asdar Ali is professor of anthropology, Middle East Studies and Asian Studies at the University of Texas, Austin. He is the author of Communism in Pakistan: Politics and Class Activism 1947-1972 (IB Tauris, 2015) and Planning the Family in Egypt: New Bodies, New Selves (UT Press, 2002). He is the co-editor of Gendering Urban Space in the Middle East, South Asia and Africa (Palgrave 2008) and Comparing Cities: Middle East and South Asia, both with Martina Rieker, with whom he also coordinates the Shehr Network on Comparative Urban Landscapes. He has published several articles on issues of health and gender in Egypt and on Pakistani politics and popular culture. He previously taught at the University of Rochester (1995-2001) and was a member of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton (1998-99). His more recent work has been on ethnic, class and gender issues in Pakistan and is currently finishing a book length manuscript on the social history of the working class movement during Pakistan's early years.

Indrani Chatterjee, Professor, History

Indrani Chatterjee"I have taught young people in three continents, and over two decades. My teaching interests have evolved to keep pace with my own travels in time. So the courses I have taught include Slavery and South Asian History, the Gender of South Asian pasts, Early Modernity in the subcontinent, and The Power of Performance.  

Recently, I find myself drawn simultaenously to both intellectual and economic histories of the subcontinent. In particular, I am interested in the ways in which wealth travelled between and within monastic lineages in the past. Having worked on the ways in which monastic governmentality was forgotten in Indian historiography by the early decades of the twentieth century, I am currently revisiting the costs of such forgetting to women's wealth in eastern India."

Oliver Freiberger, Professor, Asian Studies

Oliver FreibergerOliver Freiberger is Professor of Asian Studies and Religious Studies. He completed his Ph.D. in Indology, with minors in History of Religions and Tibetology, at the University of Göttingen in 1999 and received his Habilitation degree in Religious Studies from the University of Bayreuth in 2009. He was a Donald D. Harrington Faculty Fellow at UT in 2002-03 and joined the faculty in 2004.

Prof. Freiberger's primary research interests include the history of Buddhism in South Asia, asceticism, religious boundary-making, and comparison in the study of religion. He has (co-)written four monographs, (co-)edited ten collected volumes, and published multiple articles and book chapters on those and other topics in Asian religions and on method and theory. His most recent book on the comparative method in the study of religion, Considering Comparison: A Method for Religious Studies, was published by Oxford University Press in 2019.

Shiv Ganesh, Professor, Communications

Shiv GaneshShiv Ganesh is a Professor in the Department of Communication Studies at the Moody College of Communication. He moved to UT Austin from Aotearoa New Zealand in early 2019. He studies communication and collective organizing processes in the context of globalization and digital technologies. His fieldwork encompasses multiple countries India, Aoteaora New Zealand, the United States, and Sweden. His most recent fieldwork in India includes two projects: a study of Adivasi displacement and deliberative dynamics related to community rights of access under the Forest Rights Act; and a study of global organic cotton supply chains that seeks to examine connections and disconnects between farmer livelihoods, contemporary organic cotton production, and the rich and complicated tradition of cotton in India. He was elected a Fellow of the International Communication Association in May 2021. 

Shahnaz Hassan, Associate Professor of Instruction, Asian Studies

Shahnaz HassanShahnaz Hassan is currently serving as an Associate Professor of Instruction in the Department of Asian Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. She is a long-serving Longhorn and has taught students Urdu at UT for nearly 20 years.Prior to joining the UT faculty team, Shahnaz worked for the University of California Berkeley's Urdu Language Program in Pakistan. She worked with post-doctoral candidates in Lahore and was with the UC-Berkeley faculty in Pakistan for more than a decade. Before her commitment with UC-Berkeley, Shahnaz originally started her career by working with the US Peace Corps Program in Pakistan. She holds leadership positions with several non-profit organizations in Austin and is a proud Longhorn Mom and an Aggie Mom. Shahnaz received her B.A. from the University of the Punjab and lives in Austin with her husband Hassan and an adopted cat Jack.

Syed Akbar Hyder, Associate Professor, Asian Studies

Shamim AhmedSyed Akbar Hyder’s research centers on the intersection of aesthetics, gender and religion, and is reflected in his forthcoming monograph, A City, an Island, and a Jail: Qurratulain Hyder on the Move (Brill, 2022). While his primary appointment is in Asian Studies, he is affiliated with the university’s program in Comparative Literature and the Middle Eastern Studies and Religious Studies departments. He teaches courses on Sufism and Islamic mystical traditions, Shi’i devotional lore, aesthetics, comparative literary criticism, Urdu Progressive literature, Qawwali texts and contexts, and the literary contributions of Mir Anis, Mirza Ghalib, Mir Taqi Mir, Muhammad Iqbal, Ismat Chughtai, Sadat Hasan Manto, Josh Malihabadi, Faiz Ahamd Faiz and Qurratulain Hyder. He has directed the federally funded Hindi-Urdu Flagship Program and designed curriculum and assessment tools for the overseas programs sponsored by the American Institute of Pakistan Studies and the American Institute of Indian Studies. His pedagogical roles in the Flagship program included training language instructors across continents, teaching in various cities in India, and liaising with colleagues and NGOs in South Asia to design internships aligning students’ academic and professional interests. Paralleling his research and teaching experience is his contribution toward developing new avenues of intellectual exchange and community-building among Urdu scholars. Toward this end, he has collaborated with valued colleagues to launch and sustain the peer-reviewed bi-annual Journal of Urdu Studies and Perspectives on Islamicate South Asia, a book series promoting the interdisciplinary study of South Asian Islamicate societies. He serves as an elected trustee of the American Institute of Indian Studies.

Shanti Kumar, Associate Professor, Radio-Television-Film

Stephen SlawekShanti Kumar is an Associate Professor in the Department of Radio-Television-Film and a faculty affiliate in the Department of Asian Studies, the Center for Asian-American Studies and the South Asia Institute at the University of Texas-Austin. Before joining UT in 2006, Prof. Kumar taught at the University of Wisconsin in Madison and the University of North Texas in Denton. He received an M.A. in Media Studies from Texas Christian University in 1994, and Ph.D. in Telecommunications from Indiana University-Bloomington in 1998. Prof. Kumar is the author of Gandhi Meets Primetime: Globalization and Nationalism in Indian Television(University of Illinois Press, 2006), and co-editor of Planet TV: A Global Television Reader(NYU Press, 2003), Television at Large in South Asia(Routledge, 2012) and Global Communication: New Agendas in Communication(Routledge, 2013). He has published book chapters in several edited anthologies and articles in journals such asBioScope, Jump Cut, Popular Communication, South Asian Journal, South Asian Popular Culture, Television and New Media andQuarterly Review of Film and Video. Prof. Kumar teaches undergraduate courses such as "Introduction to Global Media," “Global Hollywood,” “Indian Cinema,” and “Media and Popular Culture".  Among the graduate seminars he teaches are "Media Theory and Literature," Global Media and Cultural Studies,” Media and Cultural Hybridity,” and “Postcolonial Cinemas.”

Raji Srinavasan, Professor, Marketing

Raji SrinavasanRaji Srinivasan is the inaugural Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion and Sam Barshop Centennial Professor of Marketing Administration. Raji who has been working at the University of Texas at Austin since 2000 is an active esearcher who does high-impact research in the areas of marketing strategy, organizational innovation and marketing metrics. She has published several research publications in leading peer-reviewed marketing journals.

Raji has a distinguished Research and Teaching record. She is the recipient of the Marketing Strategy SIG of the American Marketing Association’s Varadarajan Award for Early Career Contributions to Marketing Strategy Research (2010) and the Inaugural Recipient of the American Marketing Association’s Erin Anderson Award for an Emerging Female Marketing Scholar and Mentor 2009). She was awarded the CBA Foundation Research Excellence Award for Assistant Professors by the Red McCombs School of Business and the Trammell/CBA Foundation Teaching Award for Assistant Professors by the Red McCombs School of Business in Spring 2006 and has been nominated on multiple occasions on the faculty honor roll at the McCombs School of Business.