New Faces at the South Asia Center - 2012
Assistant Professor of Political Science joined the Maxwell School of
Citizenship and Public Affairs in the summer of 2011, after having just
received his PhD in Comparative Politics from Duke University. Sadanandan
specializes in political economy, political and economic development, political
parties, ethnic politics, and India. However, he is always looking for an
excuse to learn new things, to collaborate in adventures of mutual interest,
and to get to know others in the South Asian community.
His work is inspired by the desire to understand the
politics of development by studying why governments choose particular policies
and institutions and why some people benefit and others do not from policies
meant to improve general economic, political, and social well-being. Sadanandan
also examines the inter-linkages among political competition, political
institutions, ethnicity, public policy, and the economy.
Growing up, Sadanandan traveled and lived across India. Yet,
the city in India he associates most with is New Delhi. The city, he claims,
influenced him with its cosmopolitan scene. Sadanandan says it is partly
because of his wonderful family, and his upbringing in various parts of India
that he has an egalitarian view in work and life. “I am always open to new ideas
and believe in making the class a relaxed and friendly learning environment,”
After applying to similar programs around the country and in
Europe, Sadanandan admits that it was the Syracuse hospitality and wonderful
professionals at the Maxwell School that won him over. Sadanandan is always
ready to roll up his sleeves to help students. Staying true to his relentless
drive for learning, the newest member of the Maxwell School faculty is taking
Japanese lessons himself. He already speaks English, Hindi, and French.
Sadanandan is currently writing a book in which he is
developing an analytical framework to explain decentralization of states.
Manan Desai is
the newest member of the Syracuse University Department of English faculty.
Desai joined as Assistant Professor in Fall 2011, and teaches courses in Asian
American studies, South Asian literature, and postcolonial theory.
Desai was born in California, but raised just outside of
Detroit. “My Detroit childhood is probably one big influence in my interest in
postindustrial cities,” Desai says, while further adding that he has a passion
for vinyl records, literature, and learning. He also likes to listen to Motown
whenever he gets a chance, another habit he credits to his Detroit roots. Desai
started out as a Biology student when he attended the University of Michigan,
but African American literature fascinated him. “I saw the connection between
the 1970 Indian Dalit literature and African American literature, and spent
years studying it,” Desai says. “The similarities and differences between race
and caste were intriguing, and I started to look at translations of African
American literature by the Dalit critic M.N. Wankhade.”
“Indian travelers to the U.S. often looked at the African
American community, and found in race relations here a metaphor to consider
caste, colonialism, and nationhood back home,” Desai says, further adding that
there were several literary figures from South Asia visiting the United States
in spite of the restricted U.S. citizenship available to these immigrants. This
sparked his interest in the South Asian diaspora.
Desai is currently working on an online project South Asian
American Digital Archive (SAADA). Founded in 2008 to document and make the
diverse and relatively unknown stories of South Asian Americans available to
the wider public, SAADA’s archive is a vast resource of the experiences and
heritage of the South Asian diaspora in the United States.
Asked about the infamous Syracuse winters, Desai says he
does not believe in the “Syracuse hype.” He perhaps saw an unusually warm
winter coming, or he might have enjoyed the Michigan snow too much as a boy.
Desai is interested in learning about the South Asian student groups on campus.