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About the Major

To develop a real understanding of the continent’s immense human tapestry, students in Hamilton’s Asian Studies Program draw on the diversity of courses offered in such areas as anthropology, art history, East Asian languages and literatures, environmental studies, government, history, and religious studies. Learning a Asian language is part of the curriculum, and many students choose to study in China, Japan, or India.

Students Will Learn To:

  • Engage life world of an Asian culture (assessed during senior project oral presentation)
  • Conduct multidisciplinary research on Asia (assessed during senior project oral presentation)
  • Communicate research findings through oral expression (assessed during senior project oral presentation)

A Sampling of Courses

Vishnupada 3D/VR Temple

Asian Temples in a Digital World

Examination of Asian religions in ritual, bodily, and spatial contexts. Discussions of textual and visual sources on human ritual interactions with gods; the use and layout of temples and altars, including food offerings, music, dance, representations of deities; and meditation and internal alchemy. Readings in scholarly sources, instruction in digital historical methods of collecting and analyzing materials on the web. Writing assignments include short essays and a final research project of the student’s design to be presented with text and images in digital form.

Explore these select courses:

Introduction to the study of Islam as an everyday lived religion. The course uses interdisciplinary approaches to understanding Muslim beliefs, practices, and institutional practices. Particular focus on questions of revelation, devotion, law, spirituality, and aesthetics. Students develop facility with analyzing Islamic texts and material culture.

Are medical and scientific knowledge universal? How have the social contexts of empires, Asian and European, shaped the histories of medical and scientific thought and practice? Drawing on primary sources from the 1500s to 1940s we think through how warfare, the accumulation of wealth and territory, cultural ideals of beauty, virtue, nature, and bodily integrity, historically shaped thought about health, disease and well-being. Global networks of migration, commodity flows, and the transition from intra-Asia manuscript circulation to global print publics will contextualize our exploration.

introduction to the theory and methods of mobile ethnography. Students develop individual projects using smartphones to document a local community of their choosing. The ethnographic outcome uses digital methods such as short creative writing, photographic postcards, and video snippets. Successful projects will demonstrate a commitment to collaboration, creativity, and mobility. No previous expertise in Asian studies, award-winning aesthetics, or advanced geeky tech required. Pre-requisites: ideas, energy, and an open mind.

What was social about media before Twitter? What kind of practices and ways of imagining the world change with the rise of print publishing in South Asia? We consider the relationship between media as material objects, such as manuscripts and print books, and the social worlds of different cultural and linguistic communities across South Asia from the early modern to the modern period. This includes the cultures of oral performers - poets, storytellers and also scribal communities, publishers and authors. Understand how state power, commercial publishing and civil society interact to affect reading tastes and political community.

This course traces the history of Iran from Late Antiquity to the modern period. It looks beyond the geographic territory of the modern nation state of Iran and considers the impact of Persian culture in the Middle East, Central Asia, and South Asia. Topics include the cultural and political legacy of pre-Islamic Iran; the impact of the Arab conquest; the Perso-Islamic cultural synthesis; the rise of Turkic and Mongolian dynasties; the emergence of Shi’ism as a state religion in the early modern period; and social and political roots of the Iranian revolution in the twentieth century.

Meet Our Faculty

Thomas Wilson

Bates and Benjamin Professor of Classical and Religious Studies, Director of Asian Studies

Chinese history, culture and religion; Confucian ritual and the imperial cults devoted to Heaven and to Confucius

Abhishek Amar

Associate Professor of Asian Studies

archaeological history of South Asian religions, especially Buddhist and Hindu traditions; research in themes of inter-religious dynamics, syncretism and religious transformation; colonialism and reconfigurations of sacred centers; and religion and water management in the Buddhist and Hindu traditions

Alexsia Chan

Assistant Professor of Government

comparative politics; authoritarian politics; political economy of development; Chinese politics

Sabrina Datoo

Visiting Assistant Professor of History

intellectual and cultural history of modern South Asia; history of medicine; Islam in South Asia

Christopher Elford

Visiting Assistant Professor of Asian Studies

literature of early and medieval China; manuscript and print culture of premodern China and Central Asia; the materiality of reading and writing, particularly in pre-print literary cultures

Usman Hamid

Assistant Professor of Asian Studies

History of Islam in South Asia, specializing in Sultanate and Mughal India; Muslim devotional traditions, material culture, and gender and sexuality; history of pre-modern Iran and Persian culture

Junqing (Jessie) Jia

Assistant Professor of East Asian Languages and Literatures (Chinese)

Chinese language pedagogy, with emphasis on development of language learning motivation; research-based curriculum design and material development; gamification in foreign language learning

Masaaki Kamiya

Associate Professor of Japanese and Chair of East Asian Languages and Literatures, Director of Linguistics

syntax, semantics, language acquisition, pragmatic and Japanese linguistics

Adil Mawani

Visiting Assistant Professor of Asian Studies

Areas of Expertise: South Asian religion and literature; Islamic studies; and religion, culture, and modern thought

Arathi Menon

Assistant Professor of Art History

South Asian art; visual culture of Indian Ocean trade; churches, mosques, synagogues, and temples in Kerala; syncretism; religious iconography; artistic agency; digital art history

Kyoko Omori

Associate Professor of Japanese

modern Japanese literature, especially modernism and youth magazine culture; early 20th-century media, especially cinema and radio; and censorship and the Occupation Era, 1945-52

Julie Starr

Assistant Professor of Anthropology

China, East Asia, cultural anthropology; bodies, gender, race; food, urban ethnography, consumer culture, comparative ethnography, and history of anthropology

Nick Tackes

Visiting Assistant Professor of Asian Studies

South Asian religions; anthropology of religion, medicine, and the environment; North Indian guru movements

cultural and social history of modern South Asia, specializing in the history of nationalism, colonialism, and women

Zhuoyi Wang

Professor of East Asian Languages and Literatures

Chinese cinema and literature

Steven Yao

Edmund A. LeFevre Professor of English

20th-century American and British literature; literary translation; Ezra Pound; comparative literature; Asian American literature, especially poetry; global literary modernisms; Asian diasoporas; transpacific literature

Explore Hamilton Stories

Usman Hamid

Hamid Publishes on Muslim Relics in Journal of Hindu Studies

Assistant Professor of Asian Studies Usman Hamid published an article in the peer-reviewed Journal of Hindu Studies titled "The Footprint of the Prophet at the Gate to Mecca: Mediating Empire, Pilgrimage, and Prophetic Piety in Mughal Gujarat."

Asian American experience Levitt research group 2021

Amplifying Asian American Voices

A summer Levitt Center project involving 11 students, three professors, and several other members of the Hamilton community began in what was perhaps an unexpected way.

 Lisa Trivedi

Trivedi Hosts ASIANetwork Talk

Professor of History Lisa Trivedi recently hosted a virtual talk by Jorrit Britschgi, director of the Rubin Museum of Art in New York. The conversation was part of a new initiative of ASIANetwork, a consortium of 170 liberal arts colleges with Asian Studies Programs of which Hamilton is a part.

Careers After Hamilton

Hamilton graduates who concentrated in Asian studies are pursuing careers in a variety of fields, including:

  • Data Assurance Specialist, Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi
  • Analyst/Linguist, U.S. Department of Defense
  • Vice President, Interaction Designer, Bank of America
  • Assistant Language Teacher, Japan Exchange and Teaching Program
  • Trader, Pacific Asia, Ajc International
  • Curator for SE Asia, The British Museum
  • Assistant Editor, MTV Networks
  • Director East Asia & Pacific, Council for the International Exchange of Scholars
  • Senior Protection Officer, UN High Commissioner for Refugees


Department Name

Asian Studies Program

Office Location
198 College Hill Road
Clinton, NY 13323

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