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Photo of NY City Council Member Shahana Hanif

April 1, 2023: 5th Annual Rustgi Undergraduate Conference on South Asia


Identity & Cultural Dissonance

Saturday, April 1st, 2023 

In-Person (240 Capen Hall) + Zoom (register for link) 

Saturday, April 1st at 4 PM EST 

NYC Council Member Shahana Hanif, Keynote Speaker

On Being the First Muslim Woman Elected to the New York City Council: What This Means For the Muslim Community and the Future of our Democracy

Photo of Council Member Hanif

Council Member Shahana Hanif is the Council Member for Brooklyn’s 39th District. She was born and raised in Kensington, Brooklyn, and is the daughter of Bangladeshi Muslim immigrants. She is the product of public schools having attended P.S. 230 and Brooklyn College, an activist, community organizer, and public servant. Shahana is the first Muslim woman ever elected to the New York City Council and the first woman Council member for the 39th District. She currently serves as the chair of the Immigration Committee and is one of the two co-chairs of the Progressive Caucus. 

Featuring Student Speakers & Panelists 

Join student speakers, both domestic and international, as well as panel chairs from the University at Buffalo as they speak about some of the most important issues in South Asia. We will cover a diverse range of topics, discussing political, social, and environmental issues. 

This hybrid event is free, but registration is required.
To register visit
For more information please contact

Program Schedule 

Saturday, April 1st 

Breakfast: 8:00 am – 8:45 am

Opening Remarks: 8:45 am to 9:00 am

Panel 1: Resisting Monolithic Narratives of Identity in a Post-Colonial World

9:00 am – 10:15 am 

Panel Chair: Dr. Samina Raja, University at Buffalo 

Imaan Azeem, Habib University, “Language and Identity in a Post-colonial Context: An ethnographic study amongst students in Karachi” 

Rajkishore Mukherjee, University of Calcutta, “Identity, and its Role in South Asian Democracies”

Spoorthi Niranjan, FLAME University, “Caste Resistance to Caste Assimilation: The Brahminization of the Lingayat Community”

Panel 2: Expressions of Cultural Resilience                                       

10:30 am – 12:15 pm 

Panel Chair: Dr. Nadine Shaanta Murshid, University at Buffalo 

Caitlyn Marentette, University at Pennsylvania, “Emotion, Language, and Identity Politics in East Pakistan”

Neha Melwani, University at Toronto, “Creating Colonial Identities: The Impacts of British Colonial Forestry on Indian People” 

Malavika Kannan, Stanford University, “Spirited Wives: Critiquing Early Nationalism Through the Life-Writings of 20th Century Women” 

Kavya Srikanth, Stanford University, “Linguistic Identity Formation in Independent India”

Lunch Break 12:15 pm – 1:00 pm 

Panel 3: Transforming Cross-Cultural Depictions Across Entertainment           

1:00 pm – 2:15 pm                                                           

Panel Chair: Dr.  Suparna Soni, Buffalo State University

Clara Walling, Hamilton College, “Artistic Dreaming and the Role of Sound in Diasporic Longing”

Leela Cullity, Occidental College, “Cross-Cultural Love in the South Asian Diaspora: A Comparative Analysis of Michael Showalter’s The Big Sick and Mira Nair’s The Namesake”

Nithya Balakrish, Michigan State University, “A Queen by any Other Name: The Construction of Hijras in Indian Cinema”

Panel 4: Community Implications of South Asian Diasporic Ties

2:30 pm – 3:45 pm

Panel Chair: Dr. Christopher Lee, Canisius College 

Vansh Ruhela, University of Toronto, “The Quota-Caste System: A Double-Edged Sword”

Kush Chaudhari, Vanderbilt University, “The Complexity of the Hindu Mother Cow Gives Rise to Diverse Hindu American Perspectives”

Jaret Rushing, Vanderbilt University, “Conceiving Hindu-Muslim Translation: Shared Materiality and Kinship in the Indo-Persian Cosmopolis”

Keynote Talk 4:00 pm – 5:30 pm 

New York City Council Member Shahana Hanif 

“On Being the First Muslim Woman Elected to the New York City Council: What This Means For the Muslim Community and the Future of our Democracy”

Thank you to our event sponsors! 

Logo for University at Buffalo Asian Research Institute | Office of International Education
Logo for University at Buffalo Asian Studies | College of Arts and Sciences

The fifth 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 Asia Research Institute and Asian Studies Program.

Call for Proposals: 2023 Rustgi Undergraduate Conference on South Asia

Identity and Cultural Dissonance 

March 31 and April 1, 2023

University at Buffalo, SUNY

The University at Buffalo, SUNY, is proud to hold its fifth annual Rustgi Undergraduate Conference on South Asia. We invite papers on the theme of “Identity and Cultural Dissonance,” which may be interpreted broadly in its social or political sense. The quintessential struggle with identity that the South Asian diaspora experience correlates to the importance of seeking out and understanding one’s origins. The 2023 Rustgi conference will feature a keynote lecture from New York City Council Member of District 39 Shahana Hanif, representing the divisions of Kensington, Borough Park, Windsor Terrace, and more. Her work in the community extends beyond her career as a Council Member: she has contributed to Participatory Budgeting and served as a tenants’ rights organizer and advocate for gender justice. 

Reused temple pillar, Qutbuddin Mubarak Khilji's Jama` masjid (since 1948, a Bharat Mata Mandir), 1318, Daulatabad fort
Reused temple pillar, Jamaʿ Masjid/Bharat Mata Mandir, Daulatabad fort (credit: Walter Hakala)

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: 

  • Identities in the diaspora
  • Identity in religion
  • Gender and identity
  • Fashion in identity
  • Identity and public health
  • Identity and politics
  • Online and offline identities
  • Names and identity
  • Burdens of representation 
  • Appropriation
  • Intersectionality 

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, March 31st and Saturday, April 1st 2023. 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, January 8, 2023.

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$300. Accepted participants who attend in person will also be provided with individual 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 Office of International Education

Jennifer Dubrow (U Washington): “Characters to Resist Modernity in the Short Stories of Saadat Hasan Manto” [2-3:30 pm EDT, Monday, May 9, 2022]

The University at Buffalo Humanities Institute Research Workshop on Translation will host Dr. Jennifer Dubrow (University of Washington-Seattle) for an online public lecture, “Characters to Resist Modernity in the Short Stories of Saadat Hasan Manto.” The event will take place on Zoom 2 – 3:30 pm EDT Monday, May 9, 2022. 

To register for this talk and download three brief English translations of short stories by Manto, please visit

This talk introduces the work of Saadat Hasan Manto (1912-1955), whom Salman Rushdie called “the undisputed master of the modern Indian short story.” Now known for his radical stories of prostitutes and Partition, Manto penned indelible characters who refused South Asian modernity’s categories of Hindu/Muslim, pimp/prostitute, and man/woman. Through a reading of some of Manto’s most well-known and controversial stories, this talk reveals how Manto used a character-driven style to critique colonial modernity, and then fragmented this style to interrogate sexuality after Partition.

Jennifer Dubrow is Associate Professor of Urdu at the University of Washington-Seattle. She is the author of Cosmopolitan Dreams: The Making of Modern Urdu Literary Culture in Colonial South Asia, published by the University of Hawai’i Press in 2018 and Permanent Black in 2019. She is currently writing a book on Urdu modernism in South Asia from the 1930s to the 1960s.

Padma Rangarajan: “The Infernal Machine: A History of Terrorism in Three Parts” [May 3, 2022 – 4 pm]

UC Riverside Department of English Associate Professor Padma Rangarajan will present “The Infernal Machine: A History of Terrorism in Three Parts” on Tuesday, May 3 at 4:00pm as part of the UB Department of English Juxtapositions Lecture Series. This virtual event will take place on Zoom. To join, please visit

Padma Rangarajan is Associate Professor of English at the University of California, Riverside, where she specializes in nineteenth-century British literature. She is the author of Imperial Babel: Translation, Exoticism, and the Long Nineteenth Century (Fordham 2014). Her current project, Thug Life: The British Empire and the Birth of Terrorism interrogates discourses of modern terrorism through an examination of the legal and cultural legacy of nineteenth-century British imperialism. She has published articles in English Literary History, Studies in Scottish LiteratureThe Keats-Shelley Journal, Nineteenth Century Studies, and Nineteenth-Century Literature and is editing a special issue of Romantic Circles on “Contingent Romanticism.” 

April 30: 4th Annual Rustgi Undergraduate Conference on South Asia



Saturday, April 30, 2022

In-Person (509 O’Brian Hall) + Zoom (register for link)

Saturday, April 30th at 4 PM EST
Dr. Michael Muhammad Knight Keynote Speaker
Trouble Among the Righteous: The FBI and American Islam

Dr. Michael Muhammad Knight is the author of 17 books, including not only scholarship but also works of fiction and creative nonfiction. His forthcoming works include Sufi Deleuze, an exploration of Islam through a Deleuzian lens, and a monograph on the Nation of Islam’s Supreme Wisdom Lessons. He is an assistant professor of religion and cultural studies at the University of Central Florida.

Featuring Student Speakers & Panelists 

Join student speakers, both domestic and international, as well as panel chairs from the University at Buffalo as they speak about some of the most important issues in South Asia. We will cover a diverse range of topics, discussing political, social, health, and environmental issues.    

This hybrid event is free, but registration is required. To register visit For more information, please contact

Program Schedule

Saturday, April 30th

Panel 1: Governments’ Role in the Spread of Disinformation & How it Affects Marginalized Groups

8:45 am – 10:30am

Panel Chair: Dr. Naila Sahar, University at Buffalo & Forman Christian College (Pakistan)

Prerna Vij, Ashoka University   “The Conspiratorial Road to the North East Delhi Pogrom”

Samana Butul, Syeda Dua, Zehra Zaidi, Habib University “Sociopolitical Discourse of Balochistan versus Censored Media”

Manaam, University of Delhi “Islamartization: Role of Art in Combating Religious Polarization” 

Syeda Zarah Batool, Habib University “Menstruating while Student: Coming Back To Campus after Lockdown in Pakistan”

Panel 2: The Role of Social Media & Technology in the Spread of Disinformation & Prejudice

10:45am – 12:30pm

Panel Chair: Anupriya Pandey, University at Buffalo

Ananya Pujary, Flame University   “The Effect of Climate Change Fake News on Emotions across Generations”

Rukhshan Haroon, Ayesha Naeem, Uswah Fatima, Lahore University “Sociopolitical Discourse of Balochistan versus Censored Media”

Manum Shahid, McGill University “Dalit Muslims in the Face of Hindu Supremacy”

Sudarshan Pujari, Jadavpur University “Are ‘Voluntary’ Religious Associations Laboratories for State-Politics? The Case of ‘Deras’ in the Politics of North-Western India

Lunch Break 12:30pm – 1:00pm

Panel 3: Power Structures of Regimes & How They Affect Ethnicities, Genders, and Religious Groups

1:00pm- 2:15pm

Panel Chair: Dr. Christopher Lee, Canisius College

Samia Noor, University at Buffalo “The Blossoming of the Narcissus in Urdu Poetry”

Eric Cortes-Kopp, Hamilton College                         “A Threat to Order: Colonial, Nationalist, and Contemporary Approaches To Gender Making”

Nisha Arya, University of Rochester “COVID-19 in India: A Long History of Untouchability”

Panel 4: The Impact of Gendered Relations and Foreign Policy on the South Asian Subcontinent 

2:30pm – 3:45pm

Panel Chair: Dr. Shaanta Murshid, University at Buffalo

Imaan Khasru, Princeton University “Invisible Rebellions: The Indian Colonial Woman and Social Restriction”

Anastasiya Rudenko, University at Buffalo “How have U.S. Actions in Afghanistan been Covered by Soviet Russian Media?”

Brooklynn Mainard, University of Kansas “From the Top: Profiling Iran’s Post-Revolution Political Elite

Keynote Speaker 4:00pm – 5:30pm

Introductory Remarks: Dr. Marla Segol, University at Buffalo

Dr. Michael Muhammad Knight

“Trouble Among the Righteous: The FBI and American Islam”

Thank you to our event sponsors!

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



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.

October 27: In Silence the Secrets Speak – Lecture and Workshop on Gold-Leaf Painting by Seema Kohli

Seema Kohli

Visiting artist from India

Hosted by the Asian Studies Program & Art Department, UB with Triveni Collaboration

The lecture traces the influence of ancient and modern Indian traditions (legends & myths) to Seema’s own spiritual quest and expression in her art.

The workshop is on Gold-Leaf Painting – an ancient, traditional Indian art form. Workshop is limited to 20 participants. To register, please visit

  •        Friday, 27 Oct. 2017
  •        Lecture          12:30 PM – Screening Room, Center for the Arts, UB
  •        Workshop     2:30 to 5:00 PM – Art Studio, Center for the Arts, UB

Visiting artist Seema Kohli (India) has offered a rare opportunity for the UB and Buffalo area community to join her in a gold-leaf painting workshop. The gold-leaf painting workshop focuses on an ancient, traditional Indian art form.

The workshop is limited to 20 participants, and a ticket is required (register here). The workshop runs from 2:30pm to 5pm on Friday, October 27, 2017. The workshop is free, but is limited to 20 participants. All materials will be provided.

The workshop is directly after Seema Kohli’s 12:30pm public lecture “In Silence the Secrets Speak” (CFA Screening Room, UB North). The lecture traces the influence of ancient and modern Indian traditions (legends & myths) to Seema’s own spiritual quest and expression in her art. Registration for the 12:30pm lecture is NOT required.

Seema Kohli poster