Key People for the Yale InterAsia Initiative

Principal Investigators

Professor Helen Siu (Department of Anthropology, Council on East Asian Studies)

Professor Kalyanakrishnan Sivaramakrishnan (Department of Anthropology, India and South Asian Studies Council, Forestry and Environmental Studies)


Affiliated Faculty

Professor Eric Harms (Department of Anthropology, Council on Southeast Asian Studies)

Professor Peter Perdue (Department of History, Council on East Asian Studies)

Professor Rohit De (Department of History)



Yukiko Tonoike is an Associate Research Scientist and Coordinator for the Yale InterAsia Initiative. She received her PhD in Anthropology from Yale University in December 2009, where she focused on Near Eastern prehistory.  Her main research interests are understanding human interaction patterns from the objects that have been left behind and using technology to analyze, interpret, archive, collaborate, and present research data.


Postdoctoral Associates/Fellows


InterAsia Postdoc Neelam Khoja

Dr. Neelam Khoja is a transregional and transdisciplinary historian. She graduated from the Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations Department at Harvard and holds two master’s degrees in Islamic Studies from Claremont Graduate University and Harvard Divinity School. Khoja’s research focuses on historically marginalized communities whose networks cross imperial boundaries and national borders from the fifteenth to twentieth centuries. Khoja investigates how cultural and social politics melds literature, religion, and the production of sovereignty in the transregional and transnational spaces in present-day Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh. She is fluent in languages, literatures, cultures, and histories within and across these borders. Her research has been recognized and supported by numerous grants and fellowships including the Mahindra Humanities Center Interdisciplinary Dissertation Completion Fellowship at Harvard University, Fulbright, and American Institutes of Indian, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iranian Studies. At Yale, Khoja is working on her first monograph, Known Geographies: Afghan Societies, Sovereigns, and Space in Iran and Hindustan, 1450-1880. Khoja has published articles in peer-reviewed journals: “Historical Mistranslations: Identity, Slavery, and Genre in Eighteenth-Century India,” Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, (forthcoming Fall 2020) and “Competing Sovereignties in Eighteenth-Century South Asia: Afghan Claims to Kingship.” Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 63, no. 4 (June 16, 2020): 555–81.

Graduate Student Affiliates

Manila nuns

Two nuns run into a crowd trying to board a jeepney in Manila. Copyright George Bayuga

George Bayuga (Anthropology)
In the wake of China’s post-social religious revival, hundreds of Chinese Catholic nuns have been traveling abroad for religious, spiritual, and language training. My dissertation, “How to Make a Nun: Gender and the Infrastructure of the Catholic Church in China,” follows these women through the institutions of their international education in Manila and then back to their convents in Mainland China. It documents the social transformations and world-views cultivated in the process of transnational movement and it considers the possibilities these experiences bring to the nuns’ home villages. As China continues to develop, this dissertation calls attention to the immaterial goods—objects such as religious and spiritual values—needed for domestic religious growth, but whose “production” may rely on complex human supply chains outside of China’s national borders. In the same vein, this work also highlights the oft-unacknowledged gendered labor required to do the work of religion in China.

Devi temple

Temple dedicated to Jal Devi (goddess for water). Copyright Bhoomika Joshi 2014

Bhoomika Joshi (Anthropology)
Bhoomika Joshi is a PhD candidate in the Department of Anthropology at Yale. She is studying the life and local politics of mobility, roads and socio-spatial transformations in the Central Himalayas of India including those in the shared border areas of Nepal and Tibet. She is interested in understanding how popular religious beliefs, military cultures and kinship relations interact with and influence mobilities in the region.


Carrying out fieldwork. Copyright Rundong Ning

Rundong Ning (Anthropology)
Rundong Ning is a PhD candidate in the Department of Anthropology at Yale. His research focuses on entrepreneurship and economic transformation in central Africa in the context of increasing global connections, especially with China. His dissertation work, provisionally entitled Becoming Entrepreneurs: Entrepreneurship and National Economy in Congo-Brazzaville examines how the production of entrepreneurial subjectivity and the imagination of national economy are shaped by local, governmental, and international actors (especially China) in Congo-Brazzaville. It also looks at the possibility of using entrepreneurship to address the diminishing opportunities of stable waged labor in many regions of the world. Beyond dissertation research, he is interested in economic anthropology, STS, and regional studies on China and Africa.

Alyssa Parades Fieldwork

Carrying out fieldwork. Copyright Alyssa Parades

Alyssa Paredes (Anthropology)
Alyssa Paredes is a PhD candidate in the Department of Anthropology at Yale. Her research centers on the dual pressures of environment and economy in the context of transnational commodity trade along the Pacific Rim. Her dissertation, entitled Plantation Peripheries: Externalized Costs and Boundless Value in the Making of “Asia’s Banana Republic,” analyzes the creation of a highly politicized, prototypically “cheap” commodity, the banana, between the Philippines and Japan. Beyond her dissertation research, she maintains a longstanding personal and academic interest in artisanship, folkcraft idealism, and mechanization. Her work has been published in the Journal of Material Culture.


Previous Postdoctoral Affiliates

Sakura Christmas was the SSRC Transregional Fellow at Yale Inter-Asia Connections Program. She is an assistant professor of History and Asian Studies at Bowdoin College. Her research concerns the history of borderlands, environment, and imperialism in East Asia in the twentieth century. She received her PhD in History from Harvard University in 2016. During her sabbatical, she will be a postdoctoral scholar at the InterAsia Connections Program and an affiliate fellow at the Agrarian Studies Program. While at Yale, she will be completing her first monograph, Nomadic Borderlands: Imperial Japan and the Origins of Ethnic Autonomy in China. Her book project focuses on the Japanese-led demarcation of a nomadic borderland between Manchuria and Inner Mongolia in the 1930s. Drawing on archival research in both Japan and China, Nomadic Borderlands examines how Japanese occupiers pursued radical solutions in population transfers and environmental planning to separate out their subjects by ethnicity and livelihood. Instead of only seeing the origins of Communist rule as forged in the fires of war against imperialism, she argues for the significance of the Japanese occupation in shaping the ethnic and ecological bounds of modern China.

Debojyoti Das was the InterAsia postdoctoral fellow and is an anthropologist of South Asia, focusing on the borderlands of eastern India and the Indian Ocean. His work is interdisciplinary, bridging his training as an ethnographer with archival research and extensive use of visual media and oral sources. His current research focuses on sustainable development and disaster risk reduction policy issues in the Indian Ocean coastal world through critical study of community museums, visual arts, folk paintings and in-depth participatory research.

James Pickett was the InterAsia postdoctoral associate and specializes in the history of empire and Islamic authority. His first book project explores transregional networks of Persianate exchange among religious scholars in Bukhara during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Related articles also trace the cultural memory of this era as a subsequent influence on Soviet propaganda in Iran and language ideology in Central Eurasia. James’ second project will compare Bukhara’s transformation into a Russian protectorate with the Indian princely state of Hyderabad’s parallel trajectory into semi-colonial status. He teaches a seminar entitled “Islam and Empire in Central / South Asia.” James received his Ph.D. from Princeton (2015) and is concurrently an assistant professor in the history department at the University of Pittsburgh.

Rajashree Mazumder (InterAsia Postdoctoral Associate, South Asian Studies Council)
Rajashree Mazumder received her Ph.D. in Spring 2013 from the Department of History at University of California, Los Angeles.  Her dissertation is titled: “Constructing the Indian Immigrant to Colonial Burma 1885-1948.” Beyond India and Burma, her research interests relate to networks of circulation: people, commodities and ideas in the Indian Ocean region both in the early modern and the modern period. As a postdoctoral associate and lecturer at Yale University, she taught a seminar course: “Migration in the Indian Ocean Region.” Beginning academic year 2014-15, she will be joining Union College, NY as an Assistant Professor of History. Select publications include: “I Do Not Envy You: Mixed Marriages and Immigration Debates in the 1920s and 1930s Rangoon, Burma” in Indian Economic and Social History Review (IESHR, March 2015).

Chika Watanabe (InterAsia Postdoctoral Associate, Council on East Asian Studies)
Chika Watanabe holds a PhD in Anthropology from Cornell University, where she researched Japanese NGO aid in Myanmar. She is currently working on her book manuscript, The Muddy Labor of Aid: Moral Imaginaries of Sustainable Development Across Asia. Her research interests include development and humanitarian aid, sustainability, religion/secularity, questions of personhood, and issues of morality and ethics. While keeping an eye on Myanmar, her next major project will examine aid practices and disaster preparedness in the aftermath of the March 2011 disasters in Japan. As of August 2014, she has been a permanent Lecturer in the Department of Social Anthropology at the University of Manchester (UK).