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Faculty Research

With over 50 outstanding faculty working on South Asia, the Center for South Asian Studies supports faculty in 15 different departments across the Michigan campus. Below are some of our faculty associates' research projects and collaborations. Some of these projects have been funded by the Trehan Foundation. Others described here are U-M collaborations with universities and organizations in India.

Projects Funded by the Trehan Foundation

To date the University of Michigan Center for South Asian Studies, under the auspices of the Trehan Foundation, has awarded five grants to University of Michigan research projects.


Indian Archaeological Research

Professor Carla Sinopoli | Department of Anthropology, Principal Investigator

Professor Sinopoli is currently co-director of the "Early Historic Landscapes of the Tungabhadra Corridor" (EHLTC) project - a collaborative excavation project based in northern Karnataka in South India. The EHLTC project seeks to understand social, economic, and political lifeways and transformation among agricultural communities in inland South India during the first millennium BC South Indian Iron Age. This was a time of remarkable change in the region. At the start of the Iron Age, around 1200-1000 BC, we see the development of new technologies and burial practices and the creation of large durable sedentary communities; by the end of the period in the late centuries BC, we see the development of urban and state level communities, linked by a web of social, ideological and economic relation to each other and to north Indian states and empires (as well as to Sri Lanka, Southeast Asia and the Mediterranean). To explore these issues, Sinopoli, her colleagues, and students are conducting excavations at the Iron Age town of Kadebakele, discovered by the team in their prior research in the region. Excavation seasons were held in 2003 and 2005, with at least three more seasons planned for the future. This research is conducted in collaboration with the Karnataka Department of Archaeology and Museums, and with scholars, Dr. Sharada Srinivasan, an archaeometallurgist based at the National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore, and Dr. Kajal Shah, a ceramic specialist and recent PhD from MS University in Vadodara (Baroda). In addition, graduate students from the US and India participate in the field work each year, and three US-based students are pursuing doctoral dissertation research deriving from the project.

An important commitment of our project is the building of collaborative research relations and the training of Indian students in archaeological methods. Between 4-8 Indian graduate students join us in the field each year, coming from universities in Kerala, Delhi, Pune, and Karnataka. Two Indian participants, Ms. Uthara Suvrathan and Mr. Hemanth Kadambi, are currently pursuing doctoral degrees at the University of Michigan. Mr. Kadambi has directed an archaeological project examining the early Chalukyan empire (7-9th centuries AD); Ms. Suvrathan is pursuing doctoral research on the South India Iron Age and has participated in an archaeological project in Kerala. Sinopoli has two other doctoral students also pursuing archaeological research in South Asia.

See CSAS Fall 2011 newsletter.

Current Collaborators with Carla M. Sinopoli, Professor, Department of Anthropology

  1. National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore (Dr. Sharada Srinivasan, Research Collaborator)
  2. Karnataka Directorate of Archaeology and Museums, Mysore (Dr. R. Gopal and Mr. T.S. Gangadhar).

Additional Contacts:

  1. Delhi University, Department of History (Dr. Nayanjot Lahiri – former Dean of International Programs (am not sure if that is the right title), Dr. Upinder Singh, Professor of History and daughter of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh)
  2. Jawharlal Nehru University, Department of History (Dr. Himanshu Ray, Dr. Jaya Menon and others)
  3. Deccan College Post Graduate Research Institute (deemed University), Department of Archaeology, Dr. Shinde
  4. Dr. M.S. Nagaraja Rao, Mysore (retired Director General of the Archaeological Survey of India, very active in coordinating study abroad programs for American students in India)

Visual India: A Trans-national Digital Archive for Popular Indian Visual Culture

Professor Manishita Dass | Principal Investigator

(This Trehan funded project has now been completed.)

This was a collaborative project between faculty at Asian Languages and Cultures U-M, with  Heidelberg University in Germany and the SARAI/Center for the Study of Developing Societies in New Delhi. Tasveer Ghar is a trans-national virtual "home" for collecting, digitizing, and documenting various materials produced by South Asia's exciting popular visual sphere including posters, calendar art, pilgrimage maps and paraphernalia, cinema hoardings, advertisements, and other forms of street and bazaar art.

Some of the key fields of exploration within the network are: (a) the social and performative life of images; (b) the histories and everyday lives and voices of producers, disseminators and ‘consumers’; (c) various techniques of visuality/media of visualization (for instance, ritual or theatrical performance, or political spectacle). We also hope that such a digital data-base, which we envisage as an open access, democratic space, will also serve as a hub around which to promote dialogue and debate on matters pertaining to South Asian popular visual culture. We hope that Tasveer Ghar, we anticipate, will help promote inter-disciplinary scholarly exchange across the globe between academics, artists, and others on South Asian popular visual culture.

For more information see:

Drinking Water in Nadia District, India

Professor Jerome Nriagu | School of Public Health, Principal Investigator 

This project is a collaboration between scholars at the University of Michigan School of Public Health and two institutions in West Bengal, India. Its Principal Investigators are Professor Jerome Nriagu of the University of Michigan School of Public Health; Dr. Debashis Chatterjee of the Department of Chemistry, University of Kalyani; and Dr. D.N. Guhu Muzamder of the Institute of Post Graduate Medical Education and Research in Calcutta.


Primary collaborators

Dr. Debashis Chatterjee

Head & Full Professor

Department of Chemistry (Analytical)

University of Kalyani

Kalyani, Nadia-741235

West Bengal, India

Phone : +9133 2582 3883

Fax : +9133 2582 8282

Dr. Debendranath Guha Mazumder

DNGM Research Foundation and Member, Core Committee, Task Force on Arsenic, Govt. of West Bengal Prof. & Head, Dept. of Medicine & Gastroenterology, (Retd.), Institute of Post Graduate Medical Education & Research (IPGME&R), Kolkata.

Address : 37C, Block B, New Alipore, Kolkata : 700 053.

Phone No. : (033) 2396 7493.

Fax No. : (033) 2838-0478

E-Mail :

Web Site :


Center for Global Resource Leverage: India

Center for Global Resource Leverage: India

Ross School of Business 

Directors: Prof C K Prahalad and Prof M S Krishnan

The Center for Global Resource Leverage: India is a research satellite of the Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. The Center is located in Bangalore, India. Scholars study the next practices of managers, including how they leverage global resources and access new markets. Another area of interest is the interface between global firms and Indian firms, as well as the issues and challenges associated with maximizing the talent pool and knowledge infrastructure in India

The center is jointly directed by Professor C.K. Prahalad, the Harvey C. Fruehauf Professor of Business Administration, and Professor M.S. Krishnan, the Michael R. and Mary Kay Hallman Fellow and chair of the Business Information Technology area.

Through the Center’s research and teaching, the following problems and issues will be addressed:

  • How can global and Indian firms benefit from the developing outsourcing relationships?
  • What dynamics define this relationship?
  • What are the points of tension in this relationship, and how can they be resolved?
  • How can companies shape these outsourcing relationships to sustainable, mutually beneficial propositions?

SNRE Links with India

Training, (education), and Research for Realizing and Understanding Sustainability Transformations

Arun Agrawal, Professor, SNRE

Through the support of OBAMA-SINGH 21ST CENTURY KNOWLEDGE INITIATIVE.  Professor Agrawal's proposal will strengthen exchange relations and ties between U.S. and Indian universities and research faculty, create greater awareness of problems of resource degradation, and initiate exchange visits involving younger and more senior faculty members.  Exchange visitors under the proposed project will be housed as needed in Professor Agrawal’s research space in SNRE. 


Contacts in India:

  • Jagdeesh V Puppala,

Foundation for Ecological Security, NDDB Campus, Anand, Gujarat, India 388001

  • Harini Nagendra

Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE), Royal Enclave, Srirampura, Jakkur Post, Bangalore 560064, India. Phone: +91 80 23635555; 

Fax: +91 80 23530070; Email:

Sony Pellissery

Institute of Rural Management, Anand, Gujarat India 388001. Phone: +91 2692 - 221626; 

Fax: +91 2692 260188; Email:

Other contacts in Environmental Studies in India:

Mahesh Rangarajan was a speaker at the Trehan “Environment of India” Conference, in March 2012.

Mahesh Rangarajan is Director of the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library and Professor of Modern Indian History at the University of Delhi. He is an environmental historian, a political commentator and analyst.


SMART and the Chennai Mobility Project

The purpose of this grant is to identify existing and emerging New Mobility business models and innovative transportation approaches that benefit the urban poor; to identify and convene the social entrepreneurs advancing these new models along with key stakeholders; and to explore possible paths for scaling up those models.

Raj Cherubal is the coordinator for City Connect and Janaagraha in Chennai. Janaagraha is a leading organization in the area of urban governance reform and promotes legislative and social framework to ensure meaningful urban public participation and accountability. City Connect, a platform for industry associations and civic organisations, envisions vibrant Indian cities that deliver world-class quality of life, infrastructure and services for all its citizens—rich and poor. He holds a M.S. in Physics from the University of Louisville and a M.S. in Nuclear Engineering from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He has worked in the software industry in areas like computational physics and visualisation, telecom and finance. 


School of Public Health Study of Lead Exposure & Outcomes Amongst Children in Chennai, India

Principal Investigator: Howard Hu

Sponsor: NIH/FIC

Dr. Hu, his team and collaborators work with Sri Ramanchandra University (Chennai, India) on on genetic susceptibility of children to lead toxicity (Roy et al., 2011); a large team of participants from the US and India assessed research needs for understanding the impacts of climate change on health (Bush et al., in press); collaborated with the Mazumdar-Shaw Cancer Center in Bangalore, India, on Translational Cancer Prevention and Biomarkers. Workshop organized by fellow UM School of Medicine faculty Dr. Dean Brenner and Dr. Madhuri Kakarala.