CfP: 2022 Rustgi Undergraduate Conference on South Asia (deadline Feb. 20, 2022)


April 29 and 30, 2022

University at Buffalo, SUNY

Man seated at table in Barton Library (Bhavnagar, Gujarat)
Barton Library (Bhavnagar, Gujarat) Photo Credit: Walter Hakala

The University at Buffalo, SUNY, is proud to hold its fourth annual Rustgi Undergraduate Conference on South Asia. We invite papers on the theme of “(Mis)information,” which may be interpreted broadly in its social or political sense. The echoes of misinformation ring in all our ears today as we interact with information endlessly. Regardless of whether it is inadvertent or purposeful, the spread of misinformation has affected how we communicate and process “truths” in our world. The 2021 Rustgi conference will feature a keynote lecture from novelist, essayist, and journalist Dr. Michael Muhammad Knight, Assistant Professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Central Florida. As a scholar, Knight has explored misinformation by contending with prominent descriptions of Islam in media, dissecting concepts of religious othering both within and outside the Muslim community. His works include The Taqwacores, Why I Am a Five Percenter, and Magic in Islam.

We welcome undergraduate participants studying South Asia from all disciplines to submit proposals, preferably but not necessarily working on any topic relating to the theme. Possible topics of discussion include: 

  • Censorship (of journalism and activist voices)
  • Role of information in religious conflicts
  • Disinformation 
  • Digital literacy 
  • Institutions that diffuse information 
  • Determinants of beliefs arising from information 
  • Future of misinformation
  • Ethics of information dissemination

This list of suggestions is by no means exhaustive. We encourage papers that explore sociopolitical issues, communities, or theories stemming from under-represented perspectives. We shall organize panels around presentations addressing similar issues that draw from various disciplinary perspectives, including the social sciences, natural sciences, engineering, management, humanities, fine arts, and others. 

Please visit to submit proposals.


The conference will be held on Friday, April 29 and Saturday, April 30, 2022. Student presenters should plan for 15-minute presentations. Each panel will include 30 minutes for discussion. Though the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic may require the conference organizers to shift the conference online, we have every hope of holding the event in person.  


Proposals, including 250-word abstracts and the contact information of a faculty supervisor, must be submitted via the online submissions portal ( by Sunday, February 20, 2022.

When submitting abstracts, applicants must affirm that they will be enrolled as undergraduate students at the time of the conference. Those in graduate programs or not currently enrolled in an undergraduate program will not be permitted to present. The organizers reserve the right to confirm student status with their advisor and home institution.

Funding and Accommodations

We are able to provide a limited number of presenters with a travel subvention of up to US$200. Accepted participants who attend in person will also be provided with shared hotel accommodations. The University at Buffalo cannot provide any additional assistance or guidance to international applicants seeking entry into the United States. 


Please contact for more information about the conference.

To view past conference programs, please visit 

The fourth annual Rustgi South Asian Undergraduate Research Conference is made possible by a generous gift from the families of Dr. Vinod Rustgi and Dr. Anil Rustgi as well as funding from the University at Buffalo Baldy Center for Law and Social Policy, UB Community for Global Health Equity, UB Humanities Institute, and UB Office of International Education

12 pm March 19 | Jamal J. Elias (U Penn) “Troubling Translations and the Elusive Original”

Jamal J. Elias
“Troubling Translations and the Elusive Original: Translating More than Text”
12 pm March 19, 2021     

Please see the poster below for the Zoom link

Professor Jamal J. Elias is Walter H. Annenberg Professor of the Humanities and Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. He specializes in Islamic thought, literature, and history in Western, Central, and South Asia, with a focus on Sufism and Visual Culture. His most recent books are On Wings of Diesel: Trucks, Identity and Culture in Pakistan (Oxford 2011), Aisha’s Cushion: Religious Art, Perception and Practice in Islam (Cambridge, MA, 2012), and Alef is for Allah: Childhood, Emotion and Visual Culture in Islamic Societies (Berkeley, 2018).

Organized by the University at Buffalo Asian Studies Program and Translation Zone Humanities Institute Research Workshop

Rustgi Undergraduate Conference on South Asia (Feb 26 & 27, 2021)

Isolation and Its Discontents

February 26 and 27, 2021, via Zoom

University at Buffalo, SUNY


Saturday, Feb 27 at 3 PM EST

Dr. Aniruddha Dutta, Keynote Speaker 

“Isolation to Responsibilization: Contradictions of Trans Activism in India during COVID-19”

Dutta Pic.jpg
Dr. Aniruddha Dutta

The COVID-19 pandemic and the Indian state’s high-handed response in the form of severe lockdowns without adequate notice or welfare measures had profoundly debilitating effects on socially vulnerable groups, including trans and gender-diverse people. As many have documented, these impacts, including livelihood loss and psychosocial isolation, prompted a flurry of mobilization and fundraising by trans and kothi-hijra (transfeminine spectrum) activists and organizations for not just their own communities but also other marginalized social groups. This burgeoning sphere of COVID-related activism helped mitigate the intensified social and structural isolation of trans and other vulnerable groups during the pandemic, but evidences several contradictions. Since the immediate need for relief took precedence over challenging state policies, trans activism helped fill in for token welfare measures meted out to these communities, which intensified the process of neoliberal responsibilization wherein individuals and the “civil society” take up responsibility to make up for declining state infrastructure and social security. Further, this activism was characterized by profound inequalities in recognition and funding among activists based on class, caste and geographic location, and the state’s utilization of the pandemic period to institute undemocratic bodies for trans welfare, in which elite trans activists were complicit. Based on ethnography and collaborative activism in eastern India, this lecture will explore the conundrums and potentials of Indian trans activism during an unprecedented crisis.

Pandemic food distribution

Dr. Dutta is Associate Professor in the departments of Gender, Women’s and Sexuality Studies and Asian and Slavic Languages and Literature at the University of Iowa. Their work has appeared in journals such as Transgender Studies QuarterlyQED: A Journal in GLBTQ WorldmakingInternational Feminist Journal of PoliticsGender, and History, and South Asian History and Culture.


Friday, Feb 26 at 9 PM EST

Paul Livingstone & SANGAM, Guest Performers

Sangam - Livingston.jpg
Peter Jacobson (l) and Paul Livingstone (r) of SANGAM

Sangam is the chamber music duo of sitarist Paul Livingstone and cellist Peter Jacobson. They have been featured on three Grammy Award-winning records artists with Ozomatli, Quetzal & Rickey Kej.

Conference Program (subject to change)

Program Schedule

Friday, February 26th

Panel 1: Contextualizing Gender Violence                               7:00 pm – 8:30 pm

Syeda M. Bokhari (American University): “Object or Subjects: Women and Violence During the 1947 Partition”

Hannarose Manning (SUNY Geneseo): “Prostitution in Times of Rebellion: Examining the Roles Prostitutes Played in the 1857 Rebellion and the Legacy They Left Behind”

Olivia Frison De Angelis (The College of Wooster): “Criminals and Comic Relief: Hijra Misrepresentation in South Asian Films”

Mridula Sharma (University of Delhi ): “Escaping Isolation(s): (Re)Constructing the Kashmiri Woman in Popular Imagination”

               Performance: Paul Livingstone & SANGAM 9:00 pm

Saturday, February 27th

Panel 2: Mediated Spaces 9:00 am – 10:30 am

Amna Ejaz (Lahore University of Management Sciences): “Netflix in Pakistan: Navigating Evolving Screen Modalities among Young Adults”

Nimra Tariq (Lahore University of Management Sciences): “Blood, Guns, and Words: Response to violence in Palestinian and Kashmiri rap music”

Uswah e Fatima (Lahore University of Management Sciences): “A Shared Past & An Ambivalent Future: The Dynamics Between the Pakistani and Indian Film Industries”

               Panel 3: Reclamation of Identity 11:00 am – 12:30 pm

Sukanya Maity (Jadavpur University): “Fleeing from the Nations of Pandemics and Epidemics: Walls, Isolation”

Wajeeha Amir (Lahore University of Management Sciences): “Ajab Khan Afridi in Pashto Cinema: Changing Representations and Shifting Identities”

               Panel 4: Isolation, Religion, and Othering 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm

Upasana Rajagopalan (Ashoka University): “Caught in the web of inequalities: The Devadasis’ Isolation”

Nicholas Hom (Elon University): “A Model of Religious Othering for Medieval Tamil Literature”

Lucas J Brenner (SUNY Geneseo): “Wahhabism and the Isolation of Indian Muslims After the 1857 Rebellion”

Keynote Speaker 3:00 pm

Dr. Aniruddha Dutta, “Isolation to Responsibilization: Contradictions of Trans Activism in India during COVID-19”

This online event is free but registration is required. To register, please visit Further details will be provided before the event to those who register.

Please contact for more information. 

To view past conference programs, please visit or

The third annual Rustgi Undergraduate Conference on South Asia is made possible by a generous gift from Dr. Vinod Rustgi and his family.

Christi Merrill (U Michigan): “the artistry and afterlives of anti-caste activism” (Dec. 4)

Christi Merrill December 4 2020 lecture announcement

The Translation Zone Humanities Institute research workshop is happy to invite you to our end-of-semester talk by Dr. Christi A. Merrill, Associate Professor of Comparative Literature, South Asian Literature, and Postcolonial Theory, University of Michigan. The title of her talk is “the artistry and afterlives of anti-caste activism.”

The hour-long event will take place at 4:00 PM on Friday, 4th December, 2020. To join the online event, please visit

As a noted translator and anti-caste academic, Dr. Merrill will speak to us about translation practices in Dalit literature, her own translation work and publishing ventures, as well as larger questions concerning the identities of the author, the translator, and the publisher. You can find out more about her prolific body of translation work and teaching here

We are very excited to be hosting her as part of our workshop and look forward to having you all join us for this talk! Questions may be directed to Shantam Goyal <>

Abhipsa Chakraborty : “Activism of Intersectionality: Dalit Politics at the Cusp of Caste, Class and Gender in Contemporary India” (3:30 pm Dec. 1)

Poster announcing Chakraborty lecture December 1, 2020 at 3:30 pm

We are very pleased to announce the first talk in the social justice works-in-progress series, which emerged from one of the Department of English affinity groups and is intended to bring academic and activist work into close conjunction:

Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020 3:30 p.m.

Abhipsa Chakraborty, University at Buffalo Department of English

“Activism of Intersectionality: Dalit Politics at the Cusp of Caste, Class and Gender in Contemporary India”

For a Zoom invitation to join, please email Doug Basford <>.

Please make plans to attend and help us spread the word!

CfP: 2021 Rustgi Undergraduate Conference on South Asia

Isolation and its Discontents
February 26th and 27th, 2021
University at Buffalo, SUNY

Lodhi Gardens at Night (photo credit: Walter Hakala)

We present the third annual Rustgi Undergraduate Conference on South Asia by reflecting upon the rich history of South Asia and its connection to present-day conditions. We invite papers on the theme of “Isolation,” where isolation may be interpreted broadly, whether in its social, political, or environmental sense. To a lot of us today, isolation on a global scale would seem like a novel phenomenon. But both in its metaphorical and literal manifestations, isolation has throughout history been a marker of something tempestuous and has provoked resistance. The conference will feature a keynote lecture from Aniruddha Dutta, Associate Professor in the departments of Gender, Women’s and Sexuality Studies and Asian and Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of Iowa.

Undergraduate participants from all disciplines, working on any topic relating to the region, are welcome to submit proposals. Possible topics of discussion include:

  • Socio-political forms of isolation, including separation and seclusion
  • Physical isolation
  • Surveillance
  • Efforts to isolate certain “master categories” (caste, race, gender, nationality) out of the messy reality of humanity
  • Myths of environmental isolation
  • Atavistic claims, be they nationalist, religious, linguistic, or otherwise
  • Isolation and diaspora

While this list of suggestions is by no means exhaustive, we encourage papers that address less commonly researched sociopolitical issues, communities, or theories. We hope to organize panels around presentations addressing similar issues that draw from a variety of disciplinary perspectives, including the social sciences, natural sciences, engineering, management, humanities, fine arts, and others. 

Please click to submit proposals.


The conference will be held online on Friday, February 26th, and Saturday, February 27th, 2021. Students presenters should plan for 15-minute presentations. Each panel will include 30 minutes for discussion.


Proposals, including 250-word abstracts and the contact information of a faculty supervisor, must be submitted via the online submissions portal ( by January 1st, 2021.

When submitting abstracts, applicants must affirm that they will be enrolled as undergraduate students at the time of the conference. Those in graduate programs or not currently enrolled in an undergraduate program will not be permitted to present. The organizers reserve the right to confirm student status with their advisor and home institution.


Please contact for more information about the conference. 

To view past conference programs, please visit or

The third annual Rustgi Undergraduate Conference on South Asia is made possible by a generous gift from Dr. Vinod Rustgi and his family.



The American Institute of Indian Studies (AIIS) invites applications from scholars from all disciplines who wish to conduct their research in India. Junior fellowships are given to doctoral candidates at universities in the U.S. to conduct research for their dissertations in India for up to eleven months. Senior long-term (six to nine months) and short-term (four months or less) fellowships are available for scholars who hold the Ph.D. degree. Scholarly/Professional development fellowships are available to scholars and professionals who have not previously worked in India. Creative and Performing Arts fellowships are available to practitioners of the arts of India. Eligible applicants include 1) U.S. citizens; and 2) citizens of other countries who are students or faculty members at U.S. colleges and universities (this rule does not apply to U.S. citizens). Applications can be downloaded from the web site For more information please contact the American Institute of Indian Studies  (773) 702-8638. Email: Web site: Application deadline is now November 15, 2020.

AIIS Fellowship Competition Announcement
Sanskrit and Chinese characters

Funding for Online Summer 2020 Asian Language Programs

The UB Asian Studies Program is offering financial support to UB undergraduates who are planning to attend online Asian language programs in summer 2020. Students may apply for funding by visiting:

All UB undergraduate students are welcome to apply, but preference will be given to students majoring or minoring in the Asian Studies Program. Please complete the application as soon as possible, and no later than May 10, 2020.

Eligible summer programs include:

  • The American Institute of Indian Studies will be offering its summer language program online for summer 2020 and is extending the deadline for applying for the program until May 10, 2020. They will be offering an eight-week program (June 17 to August 13) in Bangla, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Mughal Persian, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Tamil, Telugu, Tibetan, and Urdu. Students will have three options: a 140-hour program ($1,820), a 120-hour program ($1,560), and a 72-hour program ($936). AIIS will not be able to provide financial aid to students who apply during this extra extended application period, so those who apply during this time (now through May 10) will need to procure their own funding. Decisions about admissions will be made by May 22. To apply, students should go to They should register on the portal but should ONLY upload one pdf containing two items: the two-page main application form and the one-page statement of purpose, They should NOT upload any other materials nor should they arrange for letters of recommendation. They would add the $25 application fee to the program fee they would pay.
  • The UT Austin South Asia Institute has extended the deadline to apply for online Malayalam summer intensive language courses until May 8, 2020. In cooperation with the South Asia Summer Language Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the South Asia Institute at UT Austin plans to offer online courses in the South Indian language Malayalam during summer 2020 at the beginner and intermediate levels. All courses will be offered through UT Extension, but administered through SAI. The courses will be available subject to sufficient enrollments and hiring. To learn more and to apply, please visit the UT Austin South Asia Institute website.
  • An online Arabic program is being offered by the Lebanese American University. The for-credit option costs $1,200. For more information, please visit Apply before June 1. Application fees have been waived
  • Hunter College in NYC will also be offering online Arabic 101 and 102 and Modern Palestinian Culture online this summer. Students do not have to be in New York to take these courses. Students with questions about the Hunter College program may email with any questions. Students who are not CUNY students will apply to Hunter College as non-degree students. Applications are being processed within 24-48 hours. Information on that can be found here: Tuition and fees information can be found here:

Additional opportunities will be posted as we learn of them. Please contact with any questions.

2020 Rustgi Summer South Asian Language Award

Current UB undergraduate and graduate students are invited to apply for funding to attend intensive summer language programs offered by the American Institute of Indian Studies. Applications for funding will be evaluated by UB Asian Studies Program faculty and staff. The Rustgi South Asian Language Award supports the full cost of tuition and roundtrip airfare to India. Additional funds for living expenses incurred during the summer program may also be available.

The 2019-2020 application period is OPEN. The deadline for receipt of all materials is Friday, January 3, 2020. 

About the Language Program

AIIS Language Program map

Participants are expected to devote their energies to activities that will increase their proficiency in all skills—speaking, listening, reading, and writing. For eight weeks at each AIIS language center, there will be at least four hours a day of classroom instruction and individual tutorials with regular out-of-class assignments requiring interaction with community members. Attendance is mandatory in class as well as at other activities such as cultural visits, films, and plays. There is special emphasis on connecting with the local speech community and self-management of learning. Participants are encouraged to identify and prioritize their language learning needs and keep track of their language development. Students are encouraged to stay with host families. Note that this is not a research program. Participants are expected to devote all their energies to learning the target language. For more information, please visit the AIIS Language Programs website.

Courses regularly include:

  • Bangla (Bengali)
  • Gujarati
  • Hindi
  • Kannada
  • Malayalam
  • Marathi
  • Mughal Persian
  • Pali/Prakrit
  • Punjabi
  • Sanskrit
  • Tamil
  • Telugu
  • Urdu

In addition, instruction may be arranged in other languages such as:

  • Kashmiri
  • Oriya
  • Sindhi
  • Tibetan


  • Full-time enrollment as an undergraduate or graduate student at the University of Buffalo in good academic standing at the time of application.
  • Students applying for summer Hindi should have the equivalent of one year of prior Hindi study. The equivalent of one year of either Hindi or Urdu is required for summer Urdu students. Applicants for
    summer Mughal Persian should have had the equivalent of one year of Urdu or Persian. Applicants forother languages may apply at all levels, including the beginning.
  • At the time of application for this award, applicants must have already applied to an AIIS summer language program. 

Criteria for Selection

  • Awards will be based on academic merit and seriousness of purpose
  • The applicant agrees to be an ambassador for Asian Studies at UB by sending occasional posts and photos of their experiences while in-country for use on the Asian Studies Program’s social media and website. The applicant must also be willing to talk with other students about their study abroad experience upon returning to UB.
  • The applicant’s prior South Asian coursework or plans to enroll in additional South Asia-related courses in the fall semester following their return from India.
  • Preference will be given to students seeking to learn “critical need” languages (Bangla, Hindi, Punjabi, and Urdu).
  • Preference will be given to students who can demonstrate that they have also applied for the Critical Language Scholarship and/or Boren Awards.

Required Application Materials

1)     Completed AIIS Language Application in a single PDF file including:

  • Application form (available as both a word and pdf document on the AIIS web site);
  • one-page (less than 500-word) statement of purpose describing your academic reasons for selecting a particular program, detailing how the study abroad program will fit into your overall academic program and goals, and how the program benefits your personal, academic, and professional development. This may be the same statement prepared for the AIIS application.
  • Evaluator Worksheet (available on the AIIS web site)
  • Transcripts: Applicants should scan their undergraduate and graduate transcripts (from U.S. or Canadian universities only) and include them in the single pdf file.
  • Confirmation (email or scanned document) from AIIS indicating receipt of complete AIIS summer language program application

2)     Recommended: documentation confirming submission of completed applications for the Critical Language Scholarship and/or Boren Scholarship

3)     Applicants should also submit two (2) letters of recommendation emailed as an attachment directly from their professor or instructor. Instructors may also mail their recommendations in a sealed envelope signed by the professor to Asian Studies Program, 412 Clemens Hall, Buffalo NY 14260.

Unless otherwise indicated, all materials must be emailed to no later than Friday, January 3, 2020. 

Please contact the Asian Studies Program at if you have any questions.

2019 Rustgi Conference Program

Rustgi Undergraduate Conference on South Asia featuring keynote speaker Suraj Yengde (Nov. 2, 2019; University at Buffalo, SUNY)

Exploring Culture, Climate, and Connections

November 2nd, 8:30AM – 6PM
Capen 107, University at Buffalo, North Campus
Free and open to the public. Registration is required.
Register at:

Join fellow scholars and distinguished faculty from around the world for the 2nd annual Rustgi Conference on South Asia. Featuring keynote speaker Suraj Yengde, renowned scholar and activist from Harvard University.

This conference is made possible by a generous gift from Anil and Vinod Rustgi and their family, the University at Buffalo Asian Studies Program, Department of English, Department of History, Department of Comparative Literature, Department of Linguistics, Department of Anthropology, Department of Sociology, and Community for Global Health Equity. 

Click here for the Online Conference Program
Opening Remarks                                                                          8.30A

Panel 1: Migration and Climate Change                                     8.45-10.00A
Chair: Dr. Sharmistha Bagchi-Sen (University at Buffalo)

  • Mahwesh Buland (KIIT University), “Analyzing the Possible Impact of Climate Change Based Migration in South Asia and the Role of International Organisations.”
  • Phariha Rahman (Binghamton University), “The Effects of Climate Change on Bangladesh.”
  • Anuush Vejalla (Cornell University), “The Effects of Migration and Earthquake on Indigenous-Dalit Interactions within the Hill Region of Nepal.”

Coffee Break                                                                                10.00-10.15A
Panel 2: Conservation and Sustainability                               10.15-11.55A
Chair: Dr. Samina Raja (University at Buffalo)

  • Aditi Natarajan (Symbiosis School for Liberal Arts), “Exploring the ‘Gemeinschaft’: An Ethnographic Study on the Role of Community in Conservation in Uttarakhand.”
  • Francine Barchett (Cornell University), “Waste and Women: A Gendered Study on Solid Waste Management in Telangana, India.”
  • Jon Bessette (University at Buffalo), “Water Quality Pilot Study for Traditional Water Structure Revitalization in the Deccan Plateau of India.”
  • Shermeen Imam (University of Virginia), “The Integration of Both Class and Workshop Based Approaches to Development and Empowerment Creates Longer, More Sustainable Development Towards Equity.”

Lunch                                                                                          11.55-1.00P
Panel 3: Systematic Discrimination                                          1.00-2.40P

Chair: Dr. Shaanta Murshid (University at Buffalo)

  • Oishika Neogi (Symbiosis School for Liberal Arts), “Global to Grassroots Transformations:  The effect of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) on Muslim Women in Bangladesh and India.”
  • Jordan Pilant (Yale University), “Sex Work in Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan: De Jure and De Facto.”
  • Rachel Alexander (University of Virginia), “Mental Healthcare Delivery in Bangladesh: A System Which Forgets its Women.”
  • Sarah Ahmad (Northwestern University), “Libraries, Partition, and the “Ahmadi Issue”: the intellectual development of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.”

Coffee Break                                                                                  2.40-2.55P
Panel 4: Colonialism and Identity                                              2.55-4.10P

Chair: Dr. Peter Samuels (SUNY Geneseo)

  • Peter Diamond (Brandeis University), “Queer Citizenship, Caste, and the Literary Public Sphere in Contemporary India.”
  • Araxie Mehrotra (Ithaca College), “Love, Life, Marriage, Troubles, Alone: The Struggle for Indian Identity in Guyana.”
  • Rory Green (Newcastle University), “The Colonial Ghost Haunting Myanmar: The Rohingya Crisis in Historical Context.”

Keynote                                                                                         4.10P
Suraj Yengde (Harvard University), “Global Impacts on Caste and Racism”