Sai Bhatawadekar is an Associate Professor of Hindi-Urdu at University of Hawaii and the Director of the Center for South Asian Studies. Her cross-cultural, interdisciplinary, and creative work spans comparative philosophy and religion, film studies, creative performance based language pedagogy, theater, music, dance, and now positive peace studies. On the philosophy front she works on Hegel and Schopenhauer’s interpretation of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam. Her current group project is on Apophasis or Negative Theology in five major world religions. In film studies she has worked on film adaptations of literature in German cinema and also on Bollywood’s global orientation. She is on the board of the Honolulu Museum of Art’s annual Bollywood Film Festival which brings popular, art, and regional cinema to Hawaii audiences. In language pedagogy and program development, after teaching German for a few years, she single handedly created a Hindi language program and curriculum at the Ohio State University and ran it very successfully giving rise to a thriving South Asian initiative. At University of Hawaii she continues that work and innovates her Hindi-Urdu program with creative project and performance based learning: most rewarding have been her theater and film projects, in which students co-write, direct, perform, and make short films of parodies of classic cinema. These projects have contributed to the National Foreign Language Resource Center’s great work on Project Based Language Learning. Her Indian dance group – Aaja Nachle – (literally) sprung out of Hindi classes, and is now a thriving community group with regular free classes, energetic choreographies that combine classical and folk dances, performances and workshops all over Honolulu. These varied aspects of Sai’s work essentially embody the cross-cultural creative movement of Indian philosophy, languages, and art and are being recognized within positive peace studies as a way to build self-esteem, genuine relationships, and happy communities.
Center for South Asian Studies