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.

2018-2019 Committee

Oliver Freiberger, Associate Professor, Asian Studies

Oliver FreibergerOliver Freiberger is Associate Professor of Asian Studies and Religious Studies. He completed his Ph.D. in Indology, with concentrations 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 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, and comparison in the study of religion. He has (co-)written three monographs, (co-)edited eight volumes, and published multiple articles and book chapters on these and other topics in Asian religions and method and theory (see "Publications" for details). His most recent book (2nd ed. in 2015) is a handbook of and introduction to Buddhism, co-authored with Christoph Kleine. He is currently working on a book on the comparative method in the study of religion.

Sumit Guha, Professor, History

Sumit Guha"My education began in Italy but I completed high school in New Delhi, India. I received a BA from St. Stephen's College and an MA in History from Jawaharlal Nehru University, both in Delhi. An Inlaks Scholarship enabled me to attend the University of Cambridge. I was awarded a Ph.d. in History in 1981 and returned to teach in St. Stephen's College from 1981 to 1996 (with periods of research leave at the Centre for Development Studies, Trivandrum, the Program in Agrarian Studies, Yale University and the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, Delhi.) From 1996 to 1999 I was Professor in the Indian Institute of Management Calcutta and moved to the USA in 2000 as S.P. Das Distinguished Professor at Brown University. In 2004 I joined the Department of History in Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey and came thence to the University of Texas at Austin in 2013. I began my research as an economic historian with interests in demography and agriculture. These widened into the study of environmental and ethnic histories. My first book was The Agrarian Economy of the Bombay Deccan 1818-1941 (1985) followed by Environment and Ethnicity in India, c. 1200-1991 (1999).  Courtesy of Cambridge University Press, this is now available as an ACLS E-book to members of subscribing libraries. It was followed by Health and Population in South Asia from earliest times to the present (2001). In 2013 I published Beyond Caste: Identity and Power in South Asia, Past and Present (Leiden: Brill, 2013) with a corrected Indian edition from Permanent Black (Delhi, 2016). A draft monopgraph titled The Social Frame of Historical Narrative c.1200-2000 is under review by the University of Washington Press."

Janice Leoshko, Associate Professor, Art History

Janice LeoshkoJanice Leoshko teaches courses about various issues concerning the art of South Asia as well as Buddhist Art throughout Asia. While her research primarily concerns the development of Buddhist traditions in India, she has also been involved in projects regarding other religious traditions in South Asia, including those of Islam. Linking most efforts is an abiding interest in how knowledge is constructed or what happens when we ask the simple question "why do we think this way?" Her book, Sacred Traces: British Explorations of Buddhism in the 19th-century (2003) exemplifies this interest as do articles such as "What Is in Kim?: Rudyard Kipling and Tibetan Buddhist Traditions" and "Gauguin’s Buddhism." Her research has especially focused upon long held assumptions about the historical importance and artistic production at Bodh Gaya, the Indian site where the Buddha achieved enlightenment (see for example, "About Looking at Buddha Images in Eastern India" and "Buddhist Ruins at Bodh Gaya and Bamiyan"). She also writes about the influence of museums and exhibitions, partly a result of time spent as a curator at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art ("Inside Out: Views of Jain Art").  For the university she developed and served as the first director of the graduate portfolio in museum studies and has organized major programs for UT’s South Asia Institute such as an international conference that resulted in the volume Reimagining Aśoka, Memory and History.  A recent focus on Sri Lankan art led to her current book project on the significance of the early writing of the major scholar, Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy.

Mary Rader, South Asia Librarian (Ex Officio Committee Member)

Mary RaderMary Rader is the South Asian Studies Liaison Librarian and the Head of the Arts, Humanities, and Global Studies Engagement Team. She works closely with the communities associated with UT's South Asia Institute, the South Asian Cooperative Collection Development Workshops and the South Asia Open Archives.

Sharmila Rudrappa, Professor, Sociology

Sharmila RudrappaSharmila Rudrappa teaches on, and researches issues related to gender, race, and labor. Her specific interests are on reproductive markets, with a focus on the U.S. and India. She is author of Discounted Life: The Price of Global Surrogacy in India (New York University Press, 2015).She is also the author of Ethnic Routes to Becoming American: Indian Immigrants and the Cultures of Citizenship (Rutgers University Press, 2004), which explores race and activism in late 20th century Chicago. Dr. Rudrappa is currently working on the cultural politics of assisted reproductive technologies in India and the U.S.

Ahmed Shamim, Lecturer, Asian Studies

Shamim AhmedAhmed Shamim is a lecturer in the Department of Asian Studies. He has taught Bangla at UT since 2015. He taught Linguistics and Modern Bangla Literature at CUNY LaGuardia Community College and Bangla Langauge at SASLI, University of Wisconsin, Madison. He completed his MA in Linguistics from the City University of New York and now is a doctoral candidate in Linguistics in the same university. His research interests include Endangered Language Documentation and Description, Phonology, Morphology, Grammar, and Language Policies and Ideologies. He is currently working on a morphophonological description of Koda, an endangered Munda language of Bangladesh. He penned two books on Bangla language, literature, and linguistics: Bangla Kotha (2013) and Shobdo Hoy Shobder Ghore (2018).

Scott Stroud, Associate Professor, Communications

Scott StroudDr. Scott R. Stroud (Ph.D., Temple University, 2006) specializes in the intersection between communication and culture. Working at the juncture of rhetoric and philosophy, much of his research extends the thought of the American pragmatists into the realms of rhetorical experience and political activity. He is particularly interested in the connections between artful communication, individual flourishing, religion, and democracy. His book, John Dewey and the Artful Life (Pennsylvania State University Press, 2011), engages these themes in detail. His most recent book, Kant and the Promise of Rhetoric (Pennsylvania State University Press, 2014), provides a first-of-its-kind reappraisal of Kant and his relation to the rhetorical tradition. Currently he is completing a book manuscript that tells the story of Bhimrao Ambedkar’s brush with Deweyan pragmatism at Columbia University during 1913-1916 and how it shaped his innovative pursuit of social justice in India. Stroud’s other work also engages topics in comparative/non-western rhetoric, religious rhetoric, narrative theory, and communication ethics. His research has been published in venues such as Rhetoric Society Quarterly, Philosophy & Rhetoric, Rhetoric & Public Affairs, the Journal of Communication and Religion, the Western Journal of CommunicationAdvances in the History of Rhetoricand the Journal of Speculative Philosophy. Dr. Stroud is the founding director of the Media Ethics Initiative.

Cynthia Talbot, Professor, History

Cynthia TalbotProfessor Talbot is the author of Precolonial India in Practice: Society, Region, and Identity in Medieval Andhra (Oxford University Press, 2001); co-author, with Catherine B. Asher, of India Before Europe (Cambridge University Press, 2006); and editor of Knowing India: Colonial and Modern Constructions of the Past (Yoda Press, 2011). Her latest book is The Last Hindu Emperor: Prithviraj Chauhan and the Indian Past, 1200-2000 (Cambridge University Press, 2016), winner of the A. K. Coomaraswamy book award for 2018 from the Association for Asian Studies. Her research interests include the social and cultural history of medieval and early modern India (ca. 1000-1750), historiography and historical memories, Hindu-Muslim relations, and the emotional regimes of Indian warrior cultures.