Since our 1890 founding, the University of Chicago has embraced a tradition of international exploration and collaboration.  Our scholars travel the world to connect with colleagues of every discipline, and UChicago draws international experts to teach and research on our own campus.

1913: Visit & lecture by Nobel Prizewinner Rabindranath Tagore at the University of Chicago

1936: University of Chicago alumnus, Dr. Clifford Manshardt, initiated the proposal to set up a school for professional Social Work in Mumbai. The Dorabji Tata School of Social Work was set up at Nagpada Neighbourhood House with Dr. Manshardt as its first Director.  Today theTata Institute for Social Sciences has 4 campuses, 9 schools, 33 Centers, and 10 Research Facilities across India.

1949: Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and his daughter, Indira Gandhi, visit the University of Chicago.

1951: The Ford Foundation funded a Comparative Civilizations Project at UChicago.  The initial focus of the project was the study of India, and by the 1960s the Foundation supported such yearlong visiting faculty as M.N. Srinivas of the Delhi School of Economics and Sabyasachi Bhattacharya, former chairman of the Indian Council of Historical Research.

1955: The Committee on Southern Asian Studies (COSAS) was founded to coordinate South Asian studies on campus.

1956: South Asia has played a key role in the Divinity School ever since the arrival of Mircea Eliade, who took over the field of history of religions and made India the center of it.

1958: TheSouth Asia Language and Area Center (SALAC) was founded at the University.

1965: The Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations (SALC) was founded in the Division of the Humanities and regularly offers nine modern and two classical languages of South Asia.

1973 – 1981: Johannes Adrianus Bernardus van Buitenen, the George V. Bobrinskoy Professor of Sanskrit in the Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations led the translation of the critical edition of the Mahābhārata.

1983: Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar received the Nobel Prize in Physics "for his theoretical studies of the physical processes of importance to the structure and evolution of the stars."  He determined that stars with a mass greater than 1.4 times that of the sun -- now known as the "Chandrasekhar mass" -- must eventually collapse into an object of enormous density, today known as a black hole.

1985: Kathleen Morrison began conducting archaeological research in India in 1985, Mark Lycett joining her in 1988.  In three major projects, the Vijayanagara Metropolitan Survey, Early Historic Landscapes of the Tungabhadra Corridor, and Biodiversity as a Social Process: Paleoenvironments of Peninsular India, they have investigated the political ecology of southern India.

2001: UChicago Professor and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Paul Sereno joined an expedition led by Suresh Srivastava of the Geological Society of India and Ashok Sahni of Panjab University to uncover Rajasaurus narmadensis, the first fossil remains of a dinosaur found in India.

2008: Oxford University Press published a three-volume, career-spanning collection of the writings of Professors Emeriti of Political Science Lloyd I. Rudolph and Susanne Hoeber Rudolph, titled Explaining Indian Democracy: A Fifty-Year Perspective.

2012:  A $1.5 million gift from India’s Ministry of Culture helped establish the Vivekananda Chair, a UChicago visiting professorship in Indian studies to build on the University’s strong ties to India.

2013: The announcement of the University's Center in Delhi.

Ample opportunities exist for South Asian scholars and scholarship on UChicago's Hyde Park campus. Current faculty, graduate programs, and resources make the University of Chicago one of the premier institutions for the study of South and Southeast Asia in the United States.

The South Asia Language and Area Center (SALAC) and the Committee on Southern Asian Studies (COSAS)

Ranked among the world’s leading centers for South Asian Studies, the University of Chicago is home to the South Asia Language and Area Center (SALAC), founded in 1958, and the Committee on Southern Asian Studies (COSAS), founded in 1955 to coordinate South Asian studies on campus. SALAC and COSAS sponsor a variety of activities including colloquia, workshops, conferences, public lectures, film series, cultural events, and other programs that promote understanding of the cultures and societies of South and Southeast Asia.

Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations

The Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations (SALC) in the Division of the Humanities, founded in 1965, regularly offers nine modern and two classical languages of South Asia, which constitutes more regional language offerings by full-time professional instructors than at any other university outside of South Asia.  The SALC Department offers graduate and undergraduate programs with a focus on the study of the textual traditions of South Asia and the languages they use, as a basis for a fuller understanding of the civilizations of the Indian subcontinent and surrounding areas.  For over a century, research on Indian civilizations and history at the University of Chicago has been notably strong and our scholars are widely known and respected in India.  Scholars in the social sciences and humanities from Indian institutions have been short- and long-term visitors to the University and have participated in collaborative teaching and research.  Recent visitors include the historian Romila Thapar, the authors Gurcharan Das and Amit Chaudhuri, the cultural critical Ashis Nandy, the playwright Girish Karnad, literary scholar Harish Trivedi, and others.

South Asian studies engages sixty-two faculty in nineteen departments and five professional programs.

The Indian Ministry of Culture Vivekananda Visiting Professorship

In 2012, a $1.5 million gift from India’s Ministry of Culture helped establish a University of Chicago visiting professorship in Indian studies to build on the University’s strong ties to India. The Indian Ministry of Culture Vivekananda Visiting Professorship commemorates the legacy of the Hindu spiritual leader, Swami Vivekananda.  The Chair enriches the University’s renowned program for the study of the Indian subcontinent and further research and teaching of India’s history and culture.

Sir Christopher Bayly of Cambridge University, an expert on post-18th-century Indian history and British imperial history, will join the faculty of South Asian Languages and Civilizations for Spring Quarter of 2014 and 2015. David Shulman of Hebrew University, who studies the history, religion, poetry and languages of Southern India, will be in residence for Spring Quarter of 2016 and 2017.

South Asia Library Collection

The University library, in addition to its robust support for research in the sciences,holds the leading South Asia private collection in the United States and abroad and is the only US library to collect in all regional languages. Its South Asia strength rests not only on an outstanding collection of 703,500 volumes, 4,200 current serials, 4,600 audio-visuals, and 12,200 maps, but on the quality of the collection processing and accessibility. The Library also works with Indian institutions like the Roja Muthiah Research Library and the Adyar Library and Research Center in Madras and the Urdu Research Center in Hyderabad to digitalize materials for the global public, granting UChicago researchers access to Indian collections remotely.

For more information, please visit:

Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations
Vivekananda Chair
South Asia Library Collection