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May 1, 2000

Leading scholar appointed to hold chair in India studies at UC Santa Cruz

By Barbara McKenna

Professor of theater arts Kathy Foley, chair of the Theater Arts Department and provost of Porter College, has been appointed to hold UCSC's Chandra Bhandari Endowed Chair in India Studies--one of the country's few endowed chairs in India studies and a cornerstone to the campus's burgeoning program in South Asia studies.

Traditional Indian art is one of the many subjects studied at UCSC with support from the Bhandari Chair.
Image: Courtesy of the San Francisco Asian Art Museum
Foley, who will serve as chairholder through the spring of 2001, is a respected scholar in the field of Indian and Southeast Asian dance and theater. Her areas of research include the arts and culture of India. Foley received a Ph.D. in Asian theater from the University of Hawaii, where she specialized in Indonesian puppet theater. She studied the dance art of Tamil Nadu in the l970s and conducted research as a Fulbright scholar on the impact of Indian arts and culture on the German Romantic movement. Her recent research has focused on interconnections between South and Southeast Asian performance and visual iconography and has resulted in exhibitions on South and Southeast Asian puppets and Vietnamese water puppets.

The Bhandari Chair was established by Silicon Valley entrepreneur Narpat Bhandari in honor of his wife, Chandra, in 1997. Since its inception, the chair has supported a number of important events, including two international conferences that have brought scholars together from around the world to examine India's economy and the art and culture of India, as well as a visit to India by a campus delegation, which has sewn the seeds for a variety of multidisciplinary collaborations between UCSC and institutions in India.

In announcing the appointment, UC Santa Cruz Chancellor M.R.C. Greenwood said, "I am delighted to announce the appointment of Professor Foley to the Bhandari Chair. Professor Foley is a respected leader at UCSC with a deep regard for and understanding of South and Southeast Asian arts and culture. Under her leadership, this program will serve as a bridge between the university and the community at large, supporting activities that promote an understanding of India and drawing upon the rich resources of the area's active Indian community as well."

"Additionally," Greenwood said, "we are grateful to Narpat and Chandra Bhandari for establishing this endowed chair. Their gift represents a cornerstone to our South Asia Studies Initiative and has already served as a catalyst for exceptional scholarly and cultural activities in India studies on a local, regional, and international level."

"I am very pleased with the appointment of Professor Foley," said Narpat Bhandari. "I am confident that she will further our vision to establish UCSC as an international focal point for India studies that can support interdisciplinary collaborations with academic and nonacademic colleagues around the world."

Foley plans to generate multidisciplinary activities drawing on campus, community, and international resources. "I am looking forward to working collaboratively with the Indian community in the Santa Cruz-San Jose area," she said. "I would like to build programming that allows students to interact with the community to learn about the rich history of Indian culture and also to understand its important contributions to American culture, economy, and the arts."

Foley has already initiated several activities, which are supported by the Bhandari Chair. Among them are:

  • A course in modern Indian history, taught by visiting Indian scholar Dr. Rudrangshu Mukherjee. Mukherjee is affiliated with the Subaltern Studies Collective and is a member of the History Department at Calcutta University. He is also editorial page editor of a leading English-language daily in India.

  • A residency and performance by Natya Griha Kathakali, a professional Kathakali troupe from India. The residency on the South Indian dance/drama form for UCSC students will culminate in a free public performance on Wednesday, May 3, at 8 p.m. in the Theater Arts Second Stage. For information, call 831/459-2787.

  • On Thursday and Friday, June 1 and 2, at 8 p.m., Foley and Irawati Durban, a prominent Indonesian dancer, will present a lecture and performance on "Islamic Aspects of the Indian Diaspora." The event is free and open to the public and takes place in the Theater Arts Second Stage. For more information, call 831/459-2787.

Plans for future Bhandari Chair activities include a lecture series featuring noted Indian scholars; a course on Indian philosophy and religion and a course on Indian performance, both to be taught in the 2000-01 academic year; and conferences on the influence of India on economics, humanities, and arts.

Narpat and Chandra Bhandari, longtime entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley, were both born in India. Chandra Bhandari has worked in the field of education since 1965 as both a Montessori teacher and a volunteer. Narpat Bhandari is an Angel Investor and chairman and CEO of Vanguard Systems, Inc., a pre-IPO electronics firm in Santa Clara, California. He also serves as an adviser and/or boardmember of several electronics companies. He is a trustee of the UC Santa Cruz Foundation and cofounder and a director of The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE) of Santa Clara.

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