DIRECTOR'S NOTE

Dr. Carol Babiracki

Associate Professor, Music History and Cultures

This year, the Cornell-Syracuse South Asia Consortium launched a multi-year Sustainable South Asia Initiative. This initiative is supported by the Department of Education National Resource grant (see page 3) as well as funding through the Central New York Humanities Corridor. On March 2, we hosted an inaugural workshop to begin to explore this theme. Our presentations and roundtables quickly belied the facile gloss of sustainability as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” The heart of the issue and its profound challenges lie in the daily complexities of lives confronting unrelenting change, as I have found in my own work with hereditary performers in eastern India. Communities must weigh their cultural vitality against demands of economic viability and environmental responsibility, all of which are constrained by social inequities and history. The sweet spot of sustainability, emerging from a balanced consideration of all of these elements, is an elusive, moving target. Our inherited approaches to scholarship that attend to one of the pillars of sustainability (cultural, economic, environmental, social/political) to the neglect of the others are proving ineffective in addressing the massive challenges and conflicts facing people in South Asia today.  With our four year initiative, the South Asia Center seeks to gather an interdisciplinary forum of the best minds of Central New York to advocate for more holistic and locally grounded approaches to sustainability in South Asia and here in our own communities. carol and sue- newsletter

We also had an opportunity this past spring to reflect on the hard work that has sustained the South Asia Center and South Asian Studies over the past 49 years as we celebrated the retirement of two of our past directors, Professors Susan S. Wadley and Ann G. Gold. The fête of panels, workshops, performances, and an art exhibition organized by and for them reminded us of how central they both have been to the life of the Center. We will sorely miss their daily presence. 

This fall, the Center welcomes Professor Mona Bhan, Syracuse University’s newest Ford Maxwell Professor of South Asian Studies in the Department of Anthropology. Her research and teaching on water systems, border communities, and conflict in Kashmir resonates across disciplines, colleges, and programs. We know she will find a warm and vibrant intellectual community of scholars of South Asia here in Central New York.