South Asian Studies at UC Santa Barbara

The South Asian Studies Committee is an interdisciplinary group of twenty-eight faculty at the University of California, Santa Barbara, whose research and teaching interests involve a significant focus on South Asia, including eighteen core faculty and ten affiliated faculty.

  • The Department of Religious Studies includes seven faculty whose courses explore a broad array of South Asian religions, including Hindu, Buddhist, Jain, and Islamic traditions.
  • The faculty in eleven other departments offer courses representing a variety of disciplinary approaches to the study of South Asia, including history, anthropology, sociology, political science, economics, global studies, literature, history of art and architecture, film and media studies, music, and linguistics. 
  • Courses in South Asian languages are offered on a regular basis, including Sanskrit, Pali, Hindi, Punjabi, Tibetan, Arabic, and Persian.

The intersecting research interests of the faculty engage a range of issues in South Asian studies, including ritual and performance traditions; spatial studies of sacred places and cultural landscapes; race, gender, and body politics; visual culture and postcolonial media theory; religious nationalisms and ethnic politics; and diaspora and transnational identities.

Research Focus Group. The South Asian Religions and Cultures Research Focus Group has provided an interdisciplinary forum since 2005 for faculty and graduate students whose research interests center on South Asia to discuss ongoing research projects and social, cultural, and religious issues in South Asian studies. The research focus group, which is supported by the Interdisciplinary Humanities Center, sponsors an annual program of meetings that includes presentations by faculty and graduate students as well as lectures, performances, and film screenings by visiting scholars, artists, musicians, and filmmakers.

Graduate Studies. Over forty UCSB graduate students representing a range of disciplines pursue research projects on topics related to South Asia each year. Many of them have conducted extensive fieldwork in the region, and almost all of them have South Asian languages as part of their research training. The Department of Religious Studies offers a graduate program in South Asian religions for M.A. and Ph.D. students.

Undergraduate Studies. Undergraduate students can focus on South Asia as their regional specialization in UCSB’s Global Studies major, which is administered by the Department of Global Studies. Students who pursue an undergraduate major in Religious Studies can focus on South Asian religions as their area of emphasis. Undergraduate students can also take advantage of the opportunity to study abroad in India as part of the University of California Education Abroad Program. The Education Abroad Program supports a long-established program in New Delhi and a more recently established program in Mumbai.

Worshipping a Village Tree Goddess

Programs