The Mahindra Humanities Center at Harvard is the home of interdisciplinary research and conversations, rooted in the humanities and reaching out to the world.

Through our regular seminars and colloquia we support advanced scholarship within and beyond Harvard. With the generous support of the Mellon Foundation, our postdoctoral fellowship program brings exceptionally talented humanists from around the world to Harvard to participate in an intensive program, enriched by our graduate student associates, focused on one of the most pressing moral and political questions of our time—migration. Our Environment Forum, led by Ian Miller and Robin Kelsey, convenes events that exhibit the richness of humanistic ways of thinking about nature, and a full range of ethical and artistic responses to our environmental crisis.

The Center aims to foster deep, patient work in the humanities—work based on immersion in language and founded on an awareness of connected histories; work that rests on the close reading of texts or the critical interpretation of art and music; work that investigates the values that sustain collective life and cultural exchange. Through our seminars and events, we encourage collaboration across departmental and divisional boundaries. Crucially, we seek to bring the wisdom of the humanities to bear on public discussion of the most urgent issues we confront.

Highlights of our calendar this year include Writers Speak conversations with Leslie Jamison and Hisham Matar, curated by Claire Messud, in October 2019, and the much anticipated Tanner lectures by Thomas Piketty, in April 2020. Our aim at the Mahindra Center is to be a vibrant crossroads for the University: a place where people, ideas and disciplines meet, and emerge transformed by the encounter.

On a personal note, it is my privilege to serve as interim Director of the Center this year. The Mahindra Center is fortunate to have a truly wonderful staff, guided by the vision and leadership of Steve Biel, our Executive Director. I look forward to working closely with them. I am eager to sustain the center’s focus on questions of migration and the environment, both themes that are crucial to my own work as a historian of South and Southeast Asia. It is my particular priority this year to make undergraduate and graduate students an even more central part of what we do.

Sunil Amrith
Mehra Family Professor of South Asian Studies, Department of History
Interim Director, Mahindra Humanities Center
Director, Joint Center for History and Economics
Harvard University