Since 1978, May has been the time designated to honor the achievements and history of Asian and Pacific Islander people in the United States. What began as a week, formally set aside by Congress, has since become Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month. And thanks to the stellar work of Barnard’s faculty, the College has much to celebrate (not just in May, but throughout the year).
See below for a sample of the scholarship being done — in literature, architecture, psychology, and more — by some of Barnard’s most esteemed faculty members.
Kadambari Baxi — professor of professional practice in architecture — creates design, media, and spatial projects. Currently, she is working on projects that address concerns for climate justice, fair labor, and reproductive rights. Baxi’s projects offer ways to view architecture from within many other domains and highlight what is often outside its frame. Conversely, her work mobilizes art, design, and architectural concepts for diverse yet specific ways to see the world — while reflecting on how to change it.
Fun fact: Professor Baxi’s recent projects include Trigger Planting and Found (abortion) Monument, two installations advocating for reproductive freedom. She co-created WBYA? (Who Builds Your Architecture?), a coalition of architects, activists, scholars, and educators that examines the links between labor, architecture, and the global networks that form around building buildings. The coalition has organized a series of exhibitions that advocate for fair labor practices by examining the challenges that migrant construction workers face on architectural sites worldwide.
Assistant professor of pre-modern Chinese civilization and humanities Jue Guo is a social and cultural historian of early China whose scholarly work lies at the intersection of history and archaeology. Guo, who is also the co-chair of Columbia’s Early China Seminar Series, uses historical sources and archaeological materials — settlement data and material culture, entombed objects, and excavated manuscripts — to understand past complex societies, with a geographical focus on southern China.
Fun fact: Professor Guo’s research interests include divination and spirits, talismanic objects, death rituals, and concepts of the dead in early and medieval China.
Sabrina Jhanwar, an adjunct assistant professor of psychology, specializes in health psychology. Her research examines patient reported outcomes, decision-making, and the quality of life in women before and after cancer treatments.
Fun fact: Professor Jhanwar believes in the importance of using research to tailor interventions for individuals and their families. With a strong background in clinical research, Jhanwar uses evidence-based therapies — such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) — in her patient care and treatment.
Hisham Matar is a professor of professional practice in English and Asian and Middle Eastern cultures. His debut novel, In the Country of Men, was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and The Guardian First Book Award. He received the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for his 2016 memoir, The Return. Matar’s work has been translated into 30 languages. He is the founder of the Barnard International Artists Series, a forum that hosts internationally renowned writers, filmmakers, dancers, architects, and more on campus for students to consider the world through the works of living artists.
Fun fact: Professor Matar’s latest, the novella The Boys: An Adventure (April 2023), will be featured alongside a suite of drawings that correspond to the narrative at the Ingleby Gallery in Edinburgh, Scotland, until June 10.
Director of Barnard’s Organic Chemistry Labs, senior lecturer Meena Rao is responsible for the technical aspects of making sure students have a safe and productive classroom experience while conducting experiments and proving theorems. Her research interests include organic chemistry and laboratory management.
Fun fact: Professor Rao taught the fun-filled course The Jazz of Chemistry earlier this academic year to show students a creative approach to chemistry. The course led students on a journey to explore how the science permeates nearly every aspect — cosmetics, art, and even food — of their lives.
Assistant professor of architecture Anooradha Iyer Siddiqi specializes in the histories of architecture, modernity, and migration to center African and South Asian questions of historicity and archives, heritage politics, and feminist and colonial practices. Thinking through objects, buildings, and landscapes, Siddiqi examines intellectual histories and diverse forms of esthetic practice and cultural production.
Fun fact: Professor Siddiqi's forthcoming book Architecture of Migration: The Dadaab Refugee Camps and Humanitarian Settlement, to be published in January 2024, analyzes the history, visual rhetoric, and spatial politics of the Dadaab refugee camps in northeastern Kenya.
Professor of psychology and Africana studies Colin Wayne Leach is a social and personality psychologist and an elected fellow of the Society of Experimental Social Psychology and the Society of Personality and Social Psychology. His research focuses on status and morality in identity, emotion, and motivation, as well as protest and resistance. He is the co-editor of the volumes Societal Change (2013), The Social Life of Emotions (2004), Immigrant Life in the U.S. (2003), and Psychology as Politics (2001).