New Zealand South Asia Centre

New Zealand South Asia Centre

The New Zealand South Asia Centre (NZSAC) at the University of Canterbury is designed to promote recognition and understanding of South Asian societies and cultures in New Zealand. NZSAC fosters cooperation with academic and other institutions in this country and abroad. It brings together scholars and students, politicians and entrepreneurs and provides a platform for collaborative research, education and consultancy.


The Rt Hon Sir Anand Satyanand GNZM, QSO Governor-General of New Zealand(2006-2011)


South Asia is becoming a central player in the contemporary, modernizing world. Within South Asia, India is not only the world’s largest, but also one of its most resilient democracies and has established itself as one of the fastest growing global economic powers. New Zealand is increasingly recognizing the importance of South Asia as an economic partner and the growing political importance of South Asian countries in general.

NZSAC is directed specifically towards promoting knowledge and understanding of South Asian history, society and culture and engaging with the contemporary developments and challenges facing South Asia, particularly in the fields of economics, politics and education.

NZSAC includes members from a wide range of academic disciplines (history, science, social and cultural sciences, economics and management, art and education). NZSAC offers a forum for national and international collaboration, research and study; it brings together institutions, scholars and students, politicians and entrepreneurs, in the country and abroad.

South Asia Studies is offered as a Minor in the BA schedule. The Programme will be administratively located in the School of Social and Political Sciences.

The new programme South Asia Studies intends to create and deepen knowledge of the Indian subcontinent and the Indic civilisation.

It will help students to acquire - an understanding of the historical complexity and variety of cultures, religions, and state formations within the South Asian region; - knowledge of key issues in the study of historical, anthropological, sociological, cultural and political aspects of colonial and post-colonial South Asia; - awareness of South Asia’s role in the political and economic development of the Asia-Pacific region and its growing global significance; - awareness of New Zealand’s changing relationship with South Asia.

How to become an Associate?

Associate membership of NZSAC is available to post-graduate students and other scholars conducting South Asia related research. Associate members must either be members of NZ academic institutions or linked to scholars of South Asia based in New Zealand. If you are interested to become an associate member please fill in the NZSAC Associate Member Application Form (download as a word doc 221KB)


Arindam Basu

Dr Arindam Basu is a physician, an epidemiologist, and works as a senior lecturer at the Health Sciences Centre of the Univesity of Canterbury. Additionally, he also serves as the Senior Researcher of the Health Services Assessment Collaboration, a research unit of the Health Sciences Centre. Arindam's research interests in South Asia & New Zealand include health effects and epidemiology of inorganic Arsenic exposure that has occurred in South Asia over the last four decades preceding the turn of the century; he is also interested in general in Environmental epidemiology, health policy, and migrant health related issues connecting South Asia and Australasia.

Jane Buckingham

Jane is a specialist in South Asian History, particularly the history of South India. Her research interests are principally in the areas of law, welfare and philanthropy and the history of medicine and health. Jane's research into colonial medical history has included archival and hospital experience and she has travelled extensively throughout India. Jane's current research project focuses on government and philanthropy in early colonial Madras.

Kuntal Das

Kuntal is a member of the Department of Economics and Finance. His main research interests are in international finance and development economics, focussing on developing and emerging market economies. His current research interests in South Asia include productivity differences and exchange rate movements in ASEAN and SAARC countries and understanding corporate governance and risk takings in Indian banks. Kuntal has been a consultant at the World Bank, and has held research positions at the International Monetary Fund, the Asian Development Bank and the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy in India.

Elaine Dobson

Elaine is a senior lecturer and postgraduate coordinator in the School of Music at the University of Canterbury. She is responsible for the introduction, teaching and development of the ethnomusicology courses, Himalayan Music and Asian Music. Her research into Tibetan and Bhutanese music, particularly that of the dranyen or Himalayan lute, has led to field work in Tibet, Bhutan and Nepal in 1991, 1998, 2004 and 2006, including visits to the remote areas of the eastern borders of Bhutan and the Humla region of north-west Nepal. In 2005, she undertook a preliminary, field study of the music of the Lepchas, the indigenous people of Sikkim (north India) and in 2006 was invited to be a member of the jury of the 2006 Bhutan Motion Picture Association Film Festival.

Baljit Kaur

Baljit was a faculty member in the School of Educational Studies and Human Development, College of Education. She has been a teacher educator for primary and early childhood teachers in India before joining the University of Canterbury. Her research interests are in the areas of historical and cultural studies of childhood and education with focus on home school relationships, literacy, disability, diversity and social justice. She has worked in Bastar, India, to investigate the relevance and substance of preschool education for tribal children, and studied the acquisition of reading and writing in five Indian languages. She is currently writing a book on the history of early childhood education in British India.

Piers Locke (Co-director)

Piers Locke is a lecturer in anthropology in the School of Social and Political Sciences. His primary research concerns the history and ethnography of captive elephant management, and his main fieldwork is with the elephant handlers of the Chitwan National Park, Nepal. He has co-produced a documentary film and is currently writing a monograph about elephant handling practice in Nepal. He is also preparing further research projects on ethnoveterinary knowledge and on elephant handler life histories. Piers also has teaching interests in South Asian religion, culture and society.

Aditya Malik

Aditya is member of the Anthropology programme. His research icenters on the religious culture of Rajasthan and that of the Himalayan region of Kumaon using a combination of anthropological, textual and historical approaches. His interests cover oral traditions and ritual performance, pilgrimage, 'folk' Hinduism, multi-media and cultural studies, as well post-colonial and post-modern issues related to the study of Hinduism. His current research is focused on narratives and rituals of embodiment and notions of social justice with regard to Goludev, a widely worshipped folk deity from Kumaon.

Dorothy McMenamin

MA in history, specializes in modern South Asian history and religions. She has lectured on associated topics at the University of Canterbury, and is a freelance oral historian. Projects and publications include research on social life in Colonial India, religion and politics in Pakistan, migrants and refugees into New Zealand, and leprosy in the South Pacific region. 

Clemency Montelle (Co-director)

Clemency is a member of the Mathematics and Statistics Department and researches in the History of Mathematics and Science in Ancient and Medieval India, particularly the transmission of ideas from other scientifically active societies in the ancient world. Of the estimated 30 million manuscripts that exist today, roughly as high as ten per cent of these are scientific. Clemency works with primary sources in Sanskrit, which she edits, translates, and writes scientific commentaries.

Venkatarama Nilakant

Venkatarama is a member of the Department of Management. His area of specialization is management of change. His research and writings relate to organizational changes in India after liberalization (post-1991). Currently he is working on a project which explores the management of change in the Indian Railways from 2004-2008.

Reshmi Roy

Reshmi taught within the New Zealand South Asia Centre and UC Opportunity, University of Canterbury. Her research interests include Postcolonial Studies, Cultural Studies, Cross-cultural management, Bollywood and Diasporic Cinema, Migrant and Gender issues. She has designed and taught courses dealing with Postcolonial Studies, Socio-cultural issues in post-independence India, Ethnic minorities in India, Indian Travel Writing, Women’s issues in India, Questions of Identity amongst the Indian Diaspora as well as courses on Indian "Parallel" cinema and worked as a research associate at Deakin University. She holds a Ph.D. in English and Cultural Studies and a Master of Arts, from University of Canterbury, New Zealand. She has a M.A. in English, a B.A. in English from University of Bombay, India and a Graduate Diploma in Journalism from Bombay.


Murad Ali

Murad is lecturer in the University of Malakand, Pakistan. At the moment, he is a doctoral candidate at the Institute of Development Studies, Massey University, New Zealand. His research interests include the nexus between international aid and development as well as democracy, human rights and nuclear proliferation. In particular, he is looking at the effectiveness of US bilateral aid to Pakistan in the framework of the 2005 Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness principles. His PhD study is funded through a scholarship by the government of Pakistan.

Ali Ajmal

I am currently undertaking a mixed-method research project looking at the alcohol and psychoactive drug use patterns of 18-24 year old South Asian students at the University of Auckland. I plan to extend my study onto a PhD level research project in 2013 by using quantitative methods to chart the current alcohol and psychoactive drug use profile of the young New Zealand South Asian community.

Rashmi Umesh Arora

Rashmi holds a PhD in Development Studies (University of Auckland) and MPhil in Applied Economics (JNU, Delhi). She was a postdoctoral research fellow at the Centre for Asia Pacific Social Transformation Studies (CAPSTRANS), University of Wollongong, Australia. She is a professional member of New Zealand Asian Studies Society and American Economic Association and also holds membership of ARC Asia Pacific Futures Research Network and Global Development Network. She has worked for about 20 years in India’s central bank in its economic policy department and was closely involved with India’s economic reforms. Her research areas geographically are Asia, South Asia, and India and topics of research interest are economic development, reforms, finance and development, less developed regions and globalisation. Among her major publications are Bank Credit and Economic Development: An Empirical Analysis of Indian States (Journal of Asian Public Policy, 2009), Gender Inequality, economic development and globalisation: A State level analysis of India (Journal of Developing Areas, forthcoming) and Bank Credit and Development - A Study of Uttar Pradesh, India, (VDM-Verlag). 

Abdur Rehman Cheema

Mr. Abdur Rehman Cheema is associated with the Institute of Development Studies as a doctoral candidate. His research interests include: disaster risk reduction, disaster risk governance and role of religious community institutions in vulnerability reduction and sustainable development. He is looking at the role of religious institutions in achieving disaster risk reduction through improvement in disaster risk governance in the aftermath of the 2005 earthquake in Pakistan. His PhD study is funded through a scholarship by the government of Pakistan. Mr. Cheema had an opportunity to present his research to a range of audience and won a number of research grants. His recent publications are listed here and he can be contacted at

Martin Fuchs

Martin is a Professor at the Advanced Cultural and Social Studies, Max-Weber-Kolleg of the University of Erfurt. He has taught anthropology and sociology at the University of Canterbury, universities of Zürich, Heidelberg and Paderborn, at Free University, Berlin, and Central European University, Budapest. His main interests include relationship of culture and praxis, interculturality and ethnographic representation, theories of modernity, social movements, anthropology and sociology of religion, the development of citizenship rights and urban anthropology. Regional focus: India. Fieldwork in a Bombay slum and in the Indian Himalayas.

Antje Llinkenbach-Fuchs

Antje is a co-opted visiting Scientist at the College Research Unit. She taught anthropology and sociology at the University of Canterbury, the universities of Heidelberg, Tübingen and Zürich and was Fellow of the Centre for Modern Oriental Studies in Berlin . She also worked in the fields of intercultural and teacher training and as consultant. She did fieldwork in India (Central Himalayas). Interests include development theory and practice, natural resource management, social movements, anthropology of modernity, issues of survival and self-determination of indigenous and marginalized people.

Wasana S Handapangoda

Wasana is a Senior Lecturer in the University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Sri Lanka. She is currently a resident at Stout Research Centre, Victoria University of Wellington. At Stout Research Centre, Wasana is working on a rsearch project that explores second generation Sri Lankan immigrants' narrative of self-concept and belonging in mainstream New Zealand as captured through soical media, possibly the most popular, democratic, and free media at the present time. Wasana completed her PhD in 2011 with a scholarship by the Government of Japan. Her research interests lie in international migration, gender and power, and culture and development.

V. V. Krishna

V. V. Krishna is currently Professorial Fellow, FASS at the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia. He has a PhD from the University of Wollongong, Australia and has more than 30 years of research, teaching and consultancy experience in science and technology policy studies, history and sociology of science and technology, innovation studies and science, technology and developing world in leading academic and research institutions in India, Australia, Singapore, China and Canada. He was Professor in Science Policy and Chair, Centre for Studies in Science Policy, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi for more than 20 years. He held visiting faculty positions at the National University of Singapore; McGill University, Montreal, Canada; Maison des Science De l Homme, Paris; United Nations University, Japan; Western Sydney University, Sydney and Tsinghua University, Beijing. Over the years, he published over 40 papers and five books which include: Science, Technology and Diffusion of Knowledge: Innovation Systems in Asia-Pacific (Edward Elgar 2007); Scientific Communities in the Developing Countries, (Sage 1997). His latest book is on Universities in the National Innovation Systems: Experiences from Asia Pacific (Routledge 2017) He is Editor-in-Chief of ranked international journal Science, Technology and Society (Sage). He was member of various expert committees and been consultant at UNESCO, OECD, ILO and other international agencies. He contributed to World Science Report 1998 and UNESCO Science Report 2005, and to the ILO in 2001 for its programme on the informal sector. He served as expert on European Research Council’s Grand Challenges and European Union, Brussels, based networks on research and innovation policies since 1990s.

Kathleen Harrington-Watt

Kathleen Harrington-Watt is currently a MA Anthropology student at the University of Canterbury. She comes from an academic and professional background in Social Work, Art Therapy, Visual Arts and Photography. Her interests are in the fields of Visual Anthropology, photographic theory, and visual culture. The MA thesis explores the Gujarat community in Christchurch through the viewing of personal photographs and is concerned with the role photography plays in the processes of migration and settlement and the development of community and transnational identities.

MD. Nurul Momen

Nurul Momen is an assistant professor at the University of Rajshahi in Bangladesh. Currently, he is pursuing PhD at Sant Anna School of Advanced Studies in Italy, the prime objective of his PhD research is to make a comparative analysis on access to justice and free and fair elections in the most important functioning democracies in South Asia: Bangladesh and Nepal. He earned his MPhil in Public Administration from the University of Bergen in Norway. He participated many international workshops and conferences and contributed to scholarly journals.

Yann-Pierre Montelle

Dr Yann-Pierre Montelle is a rock art researcher who researches and teaches performance studies, anthropology, and archaeology.  Having recently published a book PaleoperformanceThe Emergence of Theatricality as Social Practice which wraps the interpretative approaches from these three disciplines into an analysis of the performative traditions of Prehistory, he in recent times has turned to Indian traditions of performance from a similar vantage point.

Imran Muhammad

Imran Muhammad holds a PhD from the University of Melbourne and two postgraduate degrees in Urban Planning from the University of Hong Kong and University of Engineering and Technology, Lahore. He is currently a lecturer in the Resource and Environmental Planning Programme at Massey University, New Zealand. Prior to joining Massey University, Imran worked at the University of Melbourne, Monash University and RMIT University in research and teaching assistant capacity; VicRoads (Victoria, Australia) and British Columbia International Inc. (Canadian based consulting organisation) in a professional capacity.

Imran's research interests include sustainable urban development particularly sustainable urban transport in South Asian cities. His first book on Barriers to sustainable urban transport in Pakistan will be published by the Oxford University Press in 2009.

Samantha Nanayakkara

Samantha is a member of the School of Sciences and Physical Education and currently working towards her doctoral study in the University of Canterbury. Her current research is based on how ethnic animosity in Sri Lanka can be mitigated through Sport. Samantha was fortunate enough to be titled as the first ever female in Sri Lanka to successfully complete a research degree based on Sport studies. Previously she had researched into Sri Lankan tribal folk games and at present, her research has extended with relevance to Sri Lankan indigenous games. Samantha's research interests are in the areas of women and sport in Asia, peace through sport in Asia, Olympic studies in Asia and comparative sport studies.

Faraha Nawaz

Faraha is currently a doctoral fellow in the School of Social and Policy studies at Flinders University, South Australia and holds a Bachelor of Social Science and Master of Social Science degrees in Public Administration from the University of Rajshahi, Bangladesh. Faraha's research interests are on gender equality, poverty, human rights, social justice, gender based violence, women's empowerment, NGOs in development, public policy analysis, organisational behavior and social capital. She has authored a book entitled: "Strengthening Awareness among Rural Adolescent Girls in Bangladesh: A Case Study on Adolescent Development Program of BRAC", published from Lambert Academic, Germany. To see her other published academic papers that are in reputed national and international journals refer to:( She is an active member of a number of international professional groups and networks such as NAPSIPAG, ISTR, EROPA, NZSAC, Dev Net and AWID.

Kim Plofker

Kim Plofker is an assistant professor of mathematics at Union College. Her main interests include the history of mathematics and astronomy in Sanskrit sources. Her recent book on the topic is entitled "Mathematics in India" published by Princeton University Press.

Amal Sanyal

Amal teaches economics at Lincoln University. His interests are in political economy, governance and corruption in developing countries. He taught at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi and has participated in academic debates on Indian public policy. Amal also did research work on the Indian energy and steel sectors commissioned by the Indian Planning Commission and the Steel Authority of India. More recently he has worked on development issues of a number of Asian, Pacific and Latin American countries. His current research works are focused on political economy and corruption.

Sami Siddiq

Sami Siddiq is currently working towards a PhD in sociology at the University of Auckland. Prior to this, at Washington University in St. Louis, he studies anthropology and international relations with an emphasis on the politics of Islamic movements in Afghanistan and Parkistan. His primary research interests lie at the intersection of political sociology and international communication. Sami's doctoral research project focuses on the role of the news media as actively and influentially engaged socio-political actors in world politics in general and in the context of post-9/11 U.S. - Pakistan relations in particular.

Will Sweetman

Will Sweetman is Senior Lecturer in Asian Religions at the University of Otago. His research interests include the history of the study of religion, religion in South India and the pre-history of Orientalism in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. He is currently writing a history of the study of Hinduism during the transition to colonialism, which takes as its focus the sources, editions and reception history of Bartholomus Ziegenbalgs Genealogie der malabarischen Gotter (1713). 

Sita Venkateswar

Sita is the Director International, College of Humanities and Social Sciences and Senior Lecturer, Social Anthropology at Massey University. Sita's research interests include cultural analysis and the relationship between gender and power. Since her PhD research in the Andaman Islands, she has conducted visual exploration of child labour in Nepal, extended her interests to address globalisation, poverty, and grassroots democracy in Kolkata (formerly Calcutta). Sita has also conducted research addressing the situation of refugees and forced migrants in Europe. She is currently embarked on new research exploring perceptions of climate justice in India. Other new, collaborative, multidisciplinary opportunities relate to museum collections and the changing roles of museums in contemporary New Zealand.

Richard Weiss

Richard Weiss is senior lecturer of South Asian Religions at Victoria University, Wellington, New Zealand. His research focuses on Tamil South Indian Hinduism from the nineteenth century to the present. He has recently published a book on siddha medicine, Recipes for Immortality: Medicine, Religion and Community in South India (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009). His current research project examines transformations in Saiva community in 19th century South India.


Details of visitors related to the New Zealand South Asia Centre are added here.

Previous Visitors

  • Talk by Dr John Alexander and Dr Jane Buckingham for Canterbury Historical association, Tuesday, 11th May, 2010, 7:30 PM at Arts Lecture Theatre A5, University of Canterbury. More details here (pdf)

  • Dr John Alexander Michael (Dr Alexander) specialist in business ethics and Professor of Business Ethics, Loyola Institute of Business Administration (LIBA), Chennai, India was NZSAC's first visiting scholar, He was at University of Canterbury from 13 April to 26 June 2010 to contribute to an interdisciplinary symposium on NZ and Indian management practice, present research papers and collaborate with NZSAC members in the research project 'Managing Responsibly'. Dr Alexander's visit was funder by Seriosul Asia Fund, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, NZ. Click here to view the programme. 

  • Visitor William ‘Bo’ Sax visited NZSAC from 8-12 April and presented several lectures and seminars at UC. 

  • Dance event, Natyam 2010

  • NZSAC was represented at two 'Track two dialogues' developing the India/New Zealand relationship. The dialogues were held in Wellington and in New Dehi More (pdf)

  • NZSAC members are involved in a cross cultural India/New Zealand research project which explores alternative management ideas. Dr Buckingham's recent sabbatical leave in India to work on this project, among others, was partly supported by a visiting fellowship provided by the Indian Centre for Cultural Relations (Government of India, Ministry of External Affairs) More (pdf)
  • Members of NZSAC convened and presented a panel ‘India: Issues in Citizenship, Social Responsibility and Self-governance’ at the 18th New Zealand Asian Studies Society International Conference 2009, Victoria University of Wellington, 6-8 July, 2009. More

  • The New Zealand South Asia Centre was officially launched on Wednesday, 18 March 2009 by the Rt Hon Sir Anand Satyanand GNZM, QSO Governor-General of New Zealand, Patron of the New Zealand South Asia Centre. More

  • Geshe Sonam Richen - The respected scholar from the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives in Dharamsala, India, visited the De Jong Collection at the University of Canterbury Central Library. 23 January, 2008.

Postgraduate Students

Anuradha Deb, PhD candidate Media & Communication

My research focuses on India, including Media & Communication, Feminism, Post colonial studies, South Asian Studies, Journalism, and Cultural studies. My principle publications are:

  • Revisiting the Documentary Film: Encounters at the End of the World: Werner Herzog. LENSIGHT,Quarterly Academic Journal of Film and Media, ISSN 2395-4604. Film & Television Institute of India, Pune. 2016
  • "The State of our Minds and Media" published at "The Literary Voyage" International Journal for scholarly and creative writings. Refereed and peer reviewed. Vol111, Issue 1, ISSN 2348 5272, Rachna Publishing House, India. 2016
  • "Television and Globalization" International Journal of Research (IJR) Vol-2, Issue-10,Oct 2016.ISSN:2348-6848
  • Dissertation paper titled Globalization and Cultural Specificities in the contemporary Indian Media (1998).
  • Short films (RENDEZVOUS) submitted to the Jadavpur University, Dept. of FILM STUDIES, Kolkata, as part of the Master’s degree assignment. 1998
  • “100 years of Indian Cinema” – Documentary- produced, scripted and researched. (available on You tube)
  • Documentary on the life of film maker Subhash Ghai. Produced, scripted and researched. (available on You tube) 2013
  • AV on the screen journey of The first “FILM STAR” of India - Behrupiya (Dilip Kumar) (available on you tube) 2013

Anuj Misra

My research focuses on mathematical and scientific exchanges that flourished at the Mughal court of seventeenth century India. I’m editing, translating, and analyzing a work on mathematical astronomy called the Sarvasiddhāntarāja (1639 CE), a Sanskrit treatise written by the Hindu astronomer Nityānanda, royal astronomer at court of Shāh Jāhān. This text is known to be amongst the first siddhāntic texts that incorporate Ptolemaic and Islamic astronomy within the Indian canonical tradition, and by critically examining the structural and mathematical content of the 132 verses that form the golādhyāya, I've been able get some insight into the modality of scientific exchanges that thrived during the reign of the Mughals.

Chandan Bose, PhD candidate Anthropology

ChandanThesis title: Is there an Indian way of Telling a Story? Technique, Performance and Function of Narration of Cherial Scrolls of Telangana.
A significant group of narrative paintings from the Telangana region of the Deccan in India, called Cherial paintings, with subject matter reflecting the local interpretation of the classical mythologies, has been fairly recently added to the corpus of Indian art. Executed in bold style, they are the largest in size among the known examples of Indian pigment paintings on cloth. This research, a deep-ethography based in the politically volatile Telagana region of Andhra Pradesh, attempts to document a selection of these paintings, not only for their technique and purpose of narration, but also for their sophisticated contribution to the historical discussion and philosophical speculation on identity and shared culture. Painted by village artists, and performed by itinerant bards for particular caste communities, these scroll paintings perpetuate the ancient tradition of story-telling and of recording collective histories through visual material accompanied by narration.

Tuhina Ganguly, PhD candidate Anthropology

Thesis title: Imagining India as a Spiritual Travel Destination
This project explores the narratives and lives of North American and Western European spiritual practitioners in Puducherry, India. Situating their travel narratives within the context of the sixties’ counter-culture, when most of them first travelled to India, this thesis argues that their quest for anti-modernity and authenticity signals a thoroughly modern phenomenon. Juxtaposed with their negotiations with the everyday life of India and their hopes for a utopian universalist future, these narratives reveal the socio-political tensions inherent in re-imagining and re-creating an authentic ‘spiritual India’.

Kathleen Harrington Watt, PhD candidate Anthropology

Thesis title: Privileged Photographs: The social agency of the British Indentured Migrant photographic archives of Mauritius.
This research is centred on the Island of Mauritius and the Indian indentured migrant colonial photographic archives. These archives not only play a significant role in understanding the history of Mauritius and its colonial past, they also perform as present day icons of identity and belonging in Mauritian social, political, and vernacular contexts. This thesis seeks to understand the unique context and setting of these photographic archives and their powerful social agency. The social relationships of these archives are bound by both history and modernity. Over the last 150 years they have been through multiple processes of adaptation and transformation and play a significant role in all areas of Mauritian society today. The methods used to conduct this research rely on the concepts of participant authority and collaboration, and include visual research methods such as photo-elicitation, film, and interview.

Paul Keil- PhD candidate Anthropology, Macquarie University (research student of Piers Locke, University of Canterbury)

Thesis title: Human-Elephant entanglements on the fringe of forest and village in Assam, Northeast India
A Prime Minister’s Endeavour award recipient, Keil conducted 18 months of ethnographic fieldwork in Assam, amongst communities who live on the fringes of elephant habitat and must negotiate place with these formidable animals on a day-to-day basis. His anthropology PhD thesis aspires to look beyond the common theme of ‘conflict’ in analyses of human-elephant interactions, asking what other kinds of relational dynamics might exist on social and ecological levels. Drawing upon multispecies ethnography and ethnoelephantology, Keil’s research attempts to speak across disciplines, and explore ways of conceptualising social worlds populated by both human and nonhuman agents.

Sahrish Khan, PhD candidate Anthropology

Thesis title: Indian-Pakistani Marriages in London and the Human Dynamics of Transnationalism
This research is concerned with the ways that geographical borders and migrant cultures influence marital selection and exchange processes between Sunni Muslim Indian and Pakistani ethnic groups residing in London. It asks how significant religious identity is with regard to national or cultural identity in these transnational dialogues of marriage? Given the longstanding bilateral conflict between India and Pakistan, is there any ‘cultural risk’ associated with cross border marriages between these two ethnic groups, and if there is indeed a taboo/cultural risk, is this negated if the potential partner holds a foreign nationality? The case studies examined in this project will not only explore the importance of transnational connections, but also of national borders and geographical distance with regard to what anthropologists often refer to as the ‘human dynamics of transnationalism.’

Mohammed Khan, PhD candidate Sociology

MohammedThesis title: Disaster and Gendered Vulnerability in Coastal Bangladesh
This research is concerned with gender relations and the vulnerability of women in coastal Bangladesh, which is highly vulnerable to rising sea levels and extreme weather events. The specific objectives of this research are to explore the nexus between unequal distribution and lack of entitlements to resources in relation to gendered vulnerability, effectiveness of women leadership in disaster management, institutional local practices that cause disproportionate vulnerability for women, female headed households, their vulnerability and resilience and how to develop a bottom up approach.

Ambika Kohli, PhD candidate Sociology

AmbikaThesis title: Abortions, Motherhood and Decision Making in India Among the Urban Middle-Class
This research examines reproductive agency of educated married urban middle-class women with children. The study investigates how these women make decisions regarding when to be a mother and when to have an abortion, and while making these choices how do women negotiate with and resist against patriarchal structures and other various socio-cultural factors. Further, this thesis also looks into how participants’ treatment of their daughters and sons and expectations of them are being reshaped in contemporary times in urban India.

Mukti Prakash Thapaliya, Ph.D. Candidate, School of Educational Studies and Leadership

PhD research title : Moving towards inclusive education: How inclusive education is understood, experienced and enacted in Nepalese primary school
The purpose of this study is to provide a detailed understanding of how two primary schools have implemented the Nepalese government's aims to build an inclusive education system. What is learned from this study will potentially be useful for further policy development including continuing to refine teacher education and professional learning for inclusive education. As a teacher educator of more than eight years, I hope to make a difference to how we prepare teachers in Nepal. Twenty years ago the United Nations (UN) declared that inclusive education is the defining mission for today’s education: "… considering the fundamental policy shifts required to promote the approach of inclusive education, namely enabling schools to serve all children, particularly those with special educational needs" (UNESCO, 1994, p. iii).Inclusive education is promoted on the basis of social justice, individual rights, rights to equal access, non-discrimination and social opportunity (Winzer, 2009). The World Declaration on Education for All (EFA) in Thailand (1990) set a vision to universalize access to education for all children, young people and adults and to promote equity (UNESCO, 2009b). Arguably we are still some way from achieving these aims. For example, Gabel and Danforth (2008) say, “in spite of the resources behind the multiple international agencies invested in EFA, today, millions of children cannot obtain a basic childhood education, particularly in countries with limited resources" (p.4).

The government of Nepal has ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989), and is a signatory to most of the statements calling for Education For All and for inclusive education. Nevertheless many children and young people continue to not succeed at school, and there continue to be high drop-out rates for some groups of children in particular. Despite increasing investment in education, the situation has not improved, perhaps as a result of various factors including teacher performance, classroom management issues, choice of text book, curriculum design, policy, discrimination, barriers and so on. Some children in Nepal continue to experience exclusion based on their colour and physical status. Armstrong et al. (2000) suggest that exclusion may be due to how various individuals and societies construct and respond to personal and cultural differences. Most of the in my village people follow the Hindu religion, and believe in the concept of Karma. In this view, privileges and deficits of the current life are to be attributed to the sins of one’s past life (Gabel & Danforth, 2008). Exclusion can also occur at the policy level. Hardy and Woodcock (2014) describe the ways different policies understand and treat define ‘difference’-rather than take difference as a fact- they pay attention to how it is socially constructed and the ways policy discourses produce difference.

There have been studies of the move towards inclusive education in some of the neighbouring countries of Nepal, but to date there have been no studies of inclusive education in practice in Nepal. This thesis proposes an in-depth ethnographic study of two primary schools where the schools aim to provide inclusive education for all students. The study will canvass the views of students, families, teachers, school administrators, other school stakeholders and education officers as well as observe the everyday classroom practices and experiences of students and teachers.


The New Zealand South Asia Centre (NZSAC) is a research institution with members and affiliates across various disciplines. If you wish to contact NZSAC please approach:

Piers Locke

Senior Lecturer
Psychology Staff Block 303
Internal Phone: 94390

Clemency Montelle

Associate Professor
Erskine 711
Internal Phone: 92479

Postal Address

New Zealand South Asia Centre
School of Social and Political Sciences

University of Canterbury
Private Bag 4800
Christchurch 8140
New Zealand

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