USC to host national SASA conference

USC will host the South Asian Studies Association’s fourth annual conference this weekend, drawing experts and speakers from around the world.

SASA is an international, non-profit organization dedicated toward the study and advancement of South Asia, specifically India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka. The event, titled “South Asia and the West: Entwined, Entangled and Engaged,” will be held at the Davidson Conference Center and is co-sponsored by USC’s Office of Religious Life, Asian Pacific American Student Services and the Center for Transpacific Studies.

The conference will feature presentations from more than 100 South Asian scholars and more than 30 panel sessions, all of which address the cultural, political and religious dynamics of South Asian countries.

Suman Pendakur, director of APASS, hopes the SASA conference will create meaningful dialogue and debate.

“South Asia and its diasporas are extremely complex, and so having the opportunity to bring a conference like this to USC’s global campus gives us a chance to engage with multiple levels of dialogue,” Pendakur said.

Varun Soni, dean of USC’s Office for Religious Life, said he hopes the conference will highlight the relationship between South Asia and other parts of the world.

“The popular mind tends to focus on the differences between South Asia and the West, yet throughout history there has been constant interchange, with each side learning from and impacting the other,” Soni said in a release. “Our conference will examine this dynamic through multiple disciplinary lenses.”

Students from APASS said they think the event will be a good experience.

“It’s really great because people of different majors and academic disciplines can find some topic or topics of interest since the list of panels is so diverse,” said Bonnie Lau, a junior majoring in art history and international relations. “I know there will be senior policy experts, so it would be a great conference for international relations majors and minors to attend.”

Katie Wongthipkongka, a junior majoring in kinesiology, agreed.

“I think the conference would be useful because it brings together lots of people and perspectives on important issues,” she said. “It’s also good to exchange ideas with other people, and I think the conference enables people to do that.”

The event is free for all USC students, faculty and staff with a USC I.D. Tickets are $95 for non-USC students and $175 for all others,  and can be purchased at