South Asian Studies at Boston University

A group of South Asia Studies faculty advances teaching and research on South Asia at Boston University. South Asia at Boston University brings together faculty and students from a wide range of disciplines who are involved in the study of South Asia, encompassing Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. We strive to provide a forum for lively intellectual exchange and mutual support among the many scholars throughout Boston University who are engaged in the study of this important region of the world. Our plans include the creation of an Asian Studies major with a concentration in South Asia at Boston University. For more information about the South Asia Studies courses, contact any of the following faculty.

South Asian Studies Faculty

Department of Religion

M. David Eckel

M. David Eckel is a Professor of Religion. He earned his B.A. and M.A at Oxford and his Ph.D. at Harvard University. Publications include “Bhaviveka and His Buddhist Opponents”; “To See the Buddha: A Philosopher’s Quest for the Meaning of Emptiness”; “Buddhism”; “Jnanagarbha’s Commentary on the Distinction Between the Two Truths”; editor of “India and The West: The Problem of Understanding” and “Deliver Us from Evil.” He is the Director of the Core Curriculum, and has won the Distinguished Teaching Professor of the Humanities from 2002-5; and the Metcalf Award for Teaching Excellence in 1998.

Emily Hudson

Emily Hudson received her M.A. from the University of Chicago and her Ph.D. from the Graduate Division of Religion at Emory University with a specialization in South Asian religion(s), comparative literature, and literary theory. Before joining the Religion Department at BU in 2010, she taught at Harvard University as a lecturer in the history and literature program. Situating herself methodologically at the crossroads of religion and literature, the history of religions, and religious ethics, Hudson’s teaching and research interests focus on South Asian literature and literary theory and comparative religious ethics. Her book Disorienting Dharma: Ethics and the Poetics of Suffering in the Mahabharata (Oxford University Press, 2012) explores the relationship between aesthetics, ethics, and religion in one of the most celebrated and enigmatic literary texts to emerge from the Sanskrit epic tradition.  Her current project, provisionally entitled Rethinking Moral Paragons and Moral Dilemmas in the Indian Epics, offers a reassessment of the Sanskrit epics in light of their contribution to religious studies, comparative literature, and narrative ethics.

Frank Korom

Frank Korom is Professor of Religion and Anthropology at Boston University. He received degrees in Religious Studies and Anthropology from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1984, before pursuing advanced studies in India and Pakistan, where he earned certificates of recognition in a number of modern South Asian languages. He is currently working on a project titled “The Making of a Transnational Sufi Family,” which traces the origins and development of the Bawa Muhaiyaddeen Fellowship, which is based on the teachings of the Tamil Sufi named Guru Bawa. His research and teaching interests range from South Asian expressive traditions and contemporary religion to diaspora studies and transnationalism, which is reflected in his work on East Indians in the Caribbean, the global community of Tibetan refugees, and the peregrinations of a Sri Lankan Tamil Sufi saint. He is also interested in film, ritual, and performance studies.

Teena Purohit

Teena Purohit joined the Department of  Religion in Fall 2009. She received her Ph.D in Religion at Columbia University in 2007. She has taught classes on major texts of the Middle East and South Asia at Columbia University and South Asian Religions at UC Irvine. Professor Purohit’s research and teaching interests  focus on modern Islam South Asian religions, religion and colonialism, and South Asian history. Her book first book, The Aga Khan Case: Religion and Identity in Colonial India is forthcoming with Harvard University Press.

Department of Sociology

Nazli Kibria

Nazli Kibria is a faculty member of the Department of Sociology at Boston University, where she is also a Faculty Affiliate in Asian Studies and the American and New England Studies programs. She received her undergraduate degree from Wellesley College and her PhD in Sociology from the University of Pennsylvania. A scholar of global migration, families and identity formations, Professor Kibria teaches courses on the sociology of international migration, families, childhood and contemporary South Asia at Boston University. Her most recent book (2011) is Muslims in Motion: Islam and National Identity in the Bangladeshi Diaspora. Both as a scholar and a teacher, Nazli Kibria is committed to examining and exposing structures of power and inequality, and their consequences for the human experience. She seeks to generate critical reflection, meaningful dialogue and informed political action amongst students and readers. Her life and work is profiled in Sociologists Backstage: Answers to 10 Questions about What they Do , edited by. Sarah Fenstermaker and Nikki Jones. Also see an article in BU today titled ‘Probing the Bangladeshi Diaspora

Department of International Relations

Majari Chatterjee Miller

Manjari Chatterjee Miller works on foreign policy and security issues in international relations with a focus on South and East Asia. She specializes in the politics and foreign policy of rising power India, with an additional focus on China. Her doctoral work examined the influence of the different experiences of colonialism in India and China on their contemporary foreign policy decisions. She is interested in ideational influences on foreign policy and conceptions of state security. She is currently working on the concept of loyalty in military units.

Husain Haqqani

Husain Haqqani is the Director of the Center of International Relations and a Professor of the Practice of International Relations. Professor Haqqani has a wide range of experience as a journalist, diplomat, and adviser to four Pakistani Prime Ministers. He came to the U.S. in 2002 as a Visiting Scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, DC and an adjunct professor at the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University. Born in Karachi, Pakistan, Haqqani acquired traditional Islamic learning as well as a modern education in International Relations. His journalism career started with work as East Asian correspondent for Arabia — The Islamic World Review during the turbulent years following the Iranian revolution. During this period he wrote extensively on Muslims in China and East Asia and Islamic political movements. Later, as Pakistan and Afghanistan correspondent for the Far Eastern Economic Review, he covered the war in Afghanistan and acquired a deep understanding of militant Islamist Jihadi groups.

Adil Najam

Adil Najam is a Professor of International Relations and Geography & the Environment. Professor Najam served as a Lead Author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), work for which the IPCC was awarded the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize along with Al Gore. In 2009, Najam was appointed to serve on the UN Committee for Development Policy, a 24 member panel that advises the UN Economic and Social Council. In addition to Boston Univeristy, Najam has taught at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), University of Massachusetts, and at the Flecther School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts Univeristy. He has written over 100 scholarly papers and book chapters and serves on the editorial boards of many scholarly journals. He is a past winner of MIT’s Goodwin Medal for Effective Teaching, the Fletcher School Paddock Teaching Award, the Stein Rokan Award of the International Political Science Association, the ARNOVA Emerging Scholar Award, and the Pakistan Television Medal for Outstanding Achievement. Najam is frequently interviewed by and writes for the popular media and is the founding editor of the blog

Department of Modern Languages and Comparative Literature

Sunil Sharma

Sunil Sharma’s areas of expertise are classical Persian and Urdu literatures. Sharma is on the editorial board of several journals and publications: Iranian Studies Series (Leiden University Press), Murty Classical Library of India (Harvard University Press), Studies in Persian Cultural History (Brill), and Journal of Persianate Studies.


Abhisheka joined the department of Modern Languages and Comparative Literature in Fall 2012. He teaches Hindi and Urdu language at BU, as well as occasional courses on South Asian literature and popular culture. He has previously taught all levels of Hindi at the University of Michigan and at the United States Embassy in India. He also served as a visiting assistant professor in literature at Delhi University, India. His areas of interest include history of Hindi-Urdu literature, religion, bhakti poetry, South Asian hagiography, and film culture.

Department of History

Benjamin Siegel

Benjamin Siegel explores the interactions of food, culture, and politics in India’s nationalist movement and its first several decades of independence. Prof. Siegel seeks to understand the ways in which changing understandings of food and consumption structured India’s politics, society, and national aspirations. In doing so, he traces the lineages of India’s food crisis and suggest moments where alternative configurations were possible. His teaching and research is centered around the following areas: Citizenship, governance, and statehood; Comparative colonial and global history (Africa, South Asia, Southeast Asia); Development, technology, and the politics of expertise; History of economic thought; Food politics, famine, and hunger; and Modern South Asian politics, economy, and culture.

Department of Biomedical Engineering

Muhammad Zaman is the Associate Chair for Undergraduate Studies and an Associate Professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering. His research interests are: Systems Biology of Cancer, Cell Adhesion and Migration in 3D environments, Cellular Mechanics, Applications of BME in the developing world. Currently, research in his labs (The Zaman Lab and the Lab for Engineering Education & Development) is focused at the interface of cell biology, mechanics, systems biology and medicine. We are interested in understanding and decoupling the integrated chemical, biological and mechanical basis of tumor invasion that precedes metastasis. We utilize computational and experimental tools rooted in cell biology, chemistry, mechanics and imaging to ask how cells process external information and use it to develop specific responses in native like 3D environments. Our work is also aimed at developing multi-scale models, integrating both first principle and data driven approaches to quantify cell signaling, adhesion and motion in 3D environments.

Department of Economics

Dilip Mookherjee studied economics at Presidency College, Calcutta and Delhi School of Economics, and received his PhD in 1982 from London School of Economics. He taught at Stanford University from 1982 to 1989, the Indian Statistical Institute in New Delhi from 1989 till 1995. Since 1995 he has been teaching in the Department of Economics at Boston University, where he has been serving as Director of the Institute for Economic Development since 1998. He is a past President of BREAD (Bureau for Research in Economic Analysis of Development), and is currently Lead Academic of the India Central Program of the International Growth Centre located at the London School of Economics, and a fellow of NBER and CEPR. His research focuses mainly on South Asia, including trade middlemen, effects of microcredit and information interventions in agricultural marketing, land reform, forest rights and local governance, bankruptcy reforms in India and the US. Published books include Market Institutions, Governance and Development (Oxford Univ Press 2006), and Incentives and Institutional Reform in Tax Enforcement (Oxford University Press 1998). Among his recent articles is State-Led or Market-Led Green Revolution? Role of Private Irrigation Investment vis-a-vis Local Government Programs in West Bengal’s Farm Productivity Growth, with Pranab Bardhan and Neha Kumar. Journal of Development Economics, 2012.