William & Mary

Chitralekha Zutshi wins Plumeri


William & Mary History Professor Chitralekha Zutshi, an internationally acclaimed scholar of modern South Asian history and an expert on the Kashmir region of the Indian subcontinent, is one of this year’s recipients of the Plumeri Award for Faculty Excellence at William & Mary. Among the recipients of this year’s Plumeri Awards are an international leader in the field of neuroscience, one of the country’s foremost legal thinkers on children’s rights and family law, an internationally renowned ethnomusicologist, and sixteen others from across all schools at William & Mary, all of whom have been recognized for exemplary achievements in teaching, research and service.

The award was established with a generous gift from Joseph J. Plumeri II ’66, D.P.S. ’11. Faculty members have used the $10,000 award to enhance their research and teaching and to support travel to scholarly conferences.

“The Plumeri Awards are a vital, tangible affirmation of those who make William & Mary one of the world’s great liberal arts universities, rooted in the liberal arts and based on the close interaction of students and faculty,” said Provost Michael R. Halleran. “To achieve this type of experience for all students, we need resources that allow faculty to expand their work freely, as well as to increase the involvement of students in that work. The Plumeri Awards do exactly that.”

Professor Zutshi, whose Ph.D. is from Tufts, is the author of two books on the Kashmir region of the Indian subcontinent. The first, entitled Languages of Belonging: Islam, Regional Identity, and the Making of Kashmir, was published by Permanent Black, New Delhi (2003); Hurst & Co., London (2004); and Oxford University Press, New York (2004). It is now available in paperback and as an e-book. Her new book, just released by Oxford University Press, India, is entitled Kashmir's Contested Pasts: Narratives, Sacred Geographies, and the Historical Imagination. Based on Sanskrit, Persian, Kashmiri, and Urdu oral and textual narratives, the book examines understandings of Kashmir and Kashmiri history from the sixteenth century to the present.

Zutshi has spoken and published widely on the interrelationships among these ideas in the context of Kashmir, including in The Journal of Asian Studies, Modern Asian Studies, The Indian Economic and Social History Review, and Economic and Political Weekly, among other journals. She is also an Associate Editor of South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies.

Professor Zutshi’s research has been supported by many fellowships, including the National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship (2005-2006) and the Kluge Fellowship at the Library of Congress (2008). In the 2014-15 academic year, she will supplement a sabbatical leave from William & Mary with a Senior Research Fellowship from the American Institute of Indian Studies to travel to India for a year to work on her third book project.

History students will surely be looking forward to her return. A vibrant teacher and terrific mentor to students, Zutshi has been co-director of the Asian and Middle Eastern Studies program at the College. Students routinely say her classes are among the most difficult at the College and also among the classes from which they have learned the most. Her teaching cuts across history, religious studies, politics and gender. She teaches a wide range of courses on South Asian history and the British Empire, including "History of South Asia," "Islam and Politics in South Asia," "Kashmir: Past, Present, and Future," "Colonialism, Nationalism, and Modernity in South Asia," "Nation, Gender, and Race in British India," "Gandhi: Memory and Representation," "Bollywood and the Making of Modern India," "Empires and Imperialism," and "Transnational Environmental History." Ten years ago, Zutshi founded and directed William & Mary’s summer study abroad program in Goa, India, which she directed again in 2013.