Academic Council

SAADA's Academic Council is a select community of scholars and academics committed to furthering the inclusive study of South Asian Americans through their active involvement in SAADA's pedagogical, publishing, and documentary initiatives.

Co-Chairs:
Chandani Patel, New York University
Ragini Tharoor Srinivasan, University of Arizona

Members:
Michelle Caswell, UCLA
Reshmi Chowdhury, Austin Asian Community Health Initiatives
Hardeep Dhillon, American Bar Foundation
Himanee Gupta Carlson, Empire State College
Jessica Namakkal, Duke University

Bios (alphabetical by last name):

Dr. Michelle Caswell, PhD, is an Associate Professor of Archival Studies in the Department of Information Studies at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), where she also holds a joint appointment with Asian American studies. Caswell directs a team of students at UCLA’s Community Archives Lab, which explores the ways that independent, identity-based memory organizations document, shape, and provide access to the histories of minoritized communities, with a particular emphasis on understanding their affective, political, and artistic impact.


Reshmi Chowdhury is a researcher, grant writer, and educator. She has a background in Social Science, Public Health, and Interdisciplinary Research, and possesses the experience of working extensively in the fields of Minority Health, Health Inequity, Migration and Health, Social Justice, Gender and Sexuality and Social Movement. Her geographical foci are the USA, Canada and South Asia. Reshmi received her Master’s in Public Health from New York University, Global College of Public Health, Master’s in Sociology from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, and bachelor’s in Social Science from Dhaka University, Bangladesh. She worked for more than fifteen years as an academic researcher and worked extensively with the South and South-East Asian immigrant population from the context of empowerment and community advocacy. She is an author and co-author of research articles published in peer-reviewed journals and an academic presenter. Reshmi is currently located in Austin, TX, and is the executive board member of Austin Asian Community Health Initiative, and the Community Council member of Austin Community Radio/KOOP Radio. Her recent research interests are Asian American health and wellbeing, social accountability, integration of art, wellbeing, and activism. She is the recipient of the 2021 Migration Narrative Project Grant, in collaboration with KOOP Radio, made possible by The Institute of Diversity and Civic Life and Henry Luce Foundation.


Dr. Hardeep Dhillon was raised in California. She attended U.C. Berkeley before completing her doctorate in History with a secondary in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (WGS) at Harvard University. Her dissertation examined the global development of U.S. immigration and border controls through the lens of Asian exclusion at the turn of the twentieth century. Her larger research interests include histories of law, mobility, empire, racial capitalism, and settler colonialism. In Fall 2021, Hardeep will join the American Bar Foundation (ABF) as the incoming postdoctoral fellow in the ABF/National Science Foundation Fellowship Program in Law and Inequality.


Dr. Himanee Gupta-Carlson is the author of Muncie, India(na): Middletown and Asian America. She is interested in capturing the historical experiences of South Asian Americans who emigrated in the immediate post-World War II era through the late 1990s and landed in small cities such as Muncie in the Midwest. Gupta-Carlson currently is researching and writing about Hip Hop artists and community based farmers as agents of social change, and is delving into how caste identities and Hindutva replicate in diaspora.


Dr. Jessica Namakkal is Assistant Professor of the Practice in International Comparative Studies; Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies; and History at Duke University. Her first book Unsettling Utopia: The Making and Unmaking of French India (Columbia University Press, 2021) is a history of 20th-century French India that explores questions of colonial borders, decolonization, and the complex relationships between national, racial, gender, class, and caste identities, colonialism, and migration both in South Asia and throughout the diaspora. She is also a member of the Radical History Review editorial collective and co-editor of the Abusable Past.


Dr. Chandani Patel is Director of Global Diversity Education and Training at NYU, where she works to build a robust diversity education curriculum in collaboration with colleagues in the Office of Global Inclusion, Diversity, and Strategic Innovation. Chandani focuses particularly on creating inclusive teaching and learning environments for students, faculty, and staff, and she is committed to advancing a more equitable higher education landscape. She has presented and facilitated numerous workshops and presentations on inclusive teaching, learner-centered teaching, active learning, metacognition, critical self-awareness, and advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion in higher education contexts. Chandani received a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of Chicago, and she holds a B.A. in Comparative Literature and an M.A. in Humanities and Social Thought from New York University. Her scholarly work focuses on the Afro-Indian Ocean, with particular attention to the literature of South Asians in Africa, as well as on literary connections between the Indian and Atlantic Ocean worlds.


Dr. Ragini Tharoor Srinivasan is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Arizona, where she teaches interdisciplinary literary and cultural theory, contemporary South Asian Anglophone literatures, and Asian/American cultural production. She is also an award-winning journalist and former magazine editor with bylines in over three dozen scholarly and public venues. Before joining UA, Ragini taught at the University of Nevada, Reno, and the University of California, Berkeley, where she earned a PhD in Rhetoric in 2016.