New Faces at the South Asia Center - 2012

Anoop Sadanandan, 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.Anoop Sadanandan, Assistant Professor of Political Science 

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,” he says.

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.”Manan Desai, Assistant Professor of English

“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.