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South Asian Studies Association

South Asia is home to one quarter of the earth’s population…more than 1.8 billion individuals living in India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Myanmar, Bhutan, and the Maldives. To this number are added more than 20 million South Asians living worldwide outside of South Asia.

The South Asian Studies Association (SASA) is an alliance of scholars, academicians, and business leaders dedicated to fostering greater understanding of the region’s global importance. This is accomplished via study of its history, cultures, religions, philosophies, governance, politics, economics, art, literature, and more. SASA members and collaborators focus on South Asia’s rich and diverse past, its bold and remarkable present, and its soaring prospects for the future.

Since 2007 SASA has hosted ten international conferences at preeminent colleges and universities across America, including one each in India and in Russia. We have additionally published six books and five issues of the scholarly journal Exemplar, and bestowed annual Exemplar Awards on 18 prominent South Asia scholars and community service leaders. We have additionally produced and live-streamed more than 40 interviews with South Asia-focused scholars and newsmakers. 


For our SASA 2018 Conference, we are delighted to return to

Claremont McKenna College on March 23, 24 and 25, 2018

For Details and a Call for Papers, click here

PLEASE NOTE: SASA is now renovating this website. Some information still requires updating, which is now under way. Please forgive any temporary inconvenience and come back soon.


New from SASA Books

Mike Youngblood’s 2010 AIIS prize winning manuscript Cultivating Community


“This is political anthropology as it should be done. Bravo.” – Ronald J. Herring, Professor of Government and International Professor of Agriculture and Rural Development, Cornell University

In Cultivating Community, anthropologist Michael Youngblood explores the creation of political meaning and the construction of collective identity in an agrarian social movement in western India. The book’s core questions are fundamental to understanding mass movements anywhere: Where do movement ideologies come from and what makes them compelling? What motivates diverse groups of ordinary people to rise together in common cause? How can we make sense of individual participants in a movement when their participation sometimes appears irrational and against their own interests?

Cultivating Community explores these questions through an examination of the Shetkari Sanghatana, a massive anti-statist movement in India’s Maharashtra state. The movement, which mobilizes participants from a broad cross-section of rural castes and classes, calls for the end of government intervention in agriculture and the restoration of a golden age of rural rule under a mythological demon king named Bali. In this rich ethnographic examination, Youngblood argues for a participant-centric view of the Shetkari Sanghatana, digging beneath the movement’s loudest voices and it’s most visible exploits to see how the movement is experienced and constructed by individual participants on the ground. Through vivid descriptions of the movement in settings that include activist training camps, strategy meetings, massive protest rallies, religious festivals, and day-to-day village life, the author shows how participants and leaders together deploy a pool of shared but highly ambiguous spiritual and political symbols in an ongoing competition to define what the movement stands for, whose interests it represents, and what the future should look like.

This award-winning book is based on extensive observations and interviews during two and a half years of field research with the Shetkari Sanghatana in 1996-1999. Its ambitious inquiry delves into the fields of history, political science, economics, organizational studies, cultural geography, folklore, and religion, as well as cultural anthropology. Cultivating Community will not only enrich insight into rural life in India during a period of profound economic, political and cultural change, it will also give readers new ways to think about social mobilizations and protest movements around the world.

For price and ordering information please click here.

Recent publications of SASA Board members:

  • Vandana Asthana. Water Security in IndiaBloomsbury Academic.
  • David Blundell.   “Struggling Identities: Vanniyaletto (Vedda) of Sri Lanka.” Biological and Cultural Diversity of Man and the Development Consequence in Asia. Ranjana Ray and S. B. Chakrabarti (Indian Statistical Institute, Anthropological Survey of India), eds. Kolkata: Asiatic Society.
  • Bradley Clough. Early Indian and Theravada Buddhism: Soteriological Controversy and Diversity. Cambria Press.
  • Cathleen Cummings. Decoding a Hindu Temple.  SASA Books.
  • Carol Davis.  “Towards An Engaged Stage: Nepali Theatre in Uncertain Times” in Mapping South Asia Through Contemporary Theatre. Ed. Ashis Sengupta. Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Chandrika Kaul. Communications, Media and the Imperial Experience.  Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Joe Pellegrino, editor.  Open Pages in South Asian Studies.  SASA Books.
  • Nalini Rao.  Sindhu-Sarasvati Civilization: New PerspectivesD.K. Printworld.
  • Deepak Shimkhada.  Arjun Confronts Bullies at School.  Create Space.
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