Professor of Human Development
Chair of Human Development Department
Joined Connecticut College: 1999
University of Pune, India, B.A., M.A.; Clark University, M.Ed., Ph.D.
Racial, ethnic and migrant identity in global and transnational cultures
Cultural psychology and narrative theory
Ethnography and qualitative methods
Sunil Bhatia's research focuses on the development of self and identity within the context of postcolonial migration, globalization, and formation of transnational diasporas. In particular, his research attempts to reformulate the concept of culture and identity in cultural psychology and human development by showing how critical concepts, such as diaspora and transnational migration, force us to redefine theories of culture, identity, cultural difference and development.
He teaches courses such as, "Introduction to Human Development," "Language, Narrative and Self," "Life-Span Human Development," and "Ethnography and the Construction of Self and Identity."
He served as the director of the Holleran Center for Community Action and Public Policy from 2008 to 2011.
Professor Bhatia received the 2006 Sigmund Koch Award for Early Career Contribution to Psychology award is presented to a psychologist each year who is within 10 years of having earned a doctorate degree and has made promising contributions to theoretical or philosophical psychology. In September 2005, Sunil received Connecticut College's prestigious John King Teaching Award. In 2001, the students of Unity House awarded Bhatia the Tyrone Ferdnance Award for excellence in teaching and community service. Read "Achievements and Awards: So What? Now What?, his remarks on the occasion of the college's Honors and Awards Ceremony 2006.
In 2009, he received the Martin Luther King Jr. Faculty Service Award given to a faculty who upholds the legacy of Dr. King’s work with their demonstrated commitment to social justice and serving underrepresented communities either on campus and/or the New London community. In 2007, he also received a Community Service Award that is given by the Connecticut Department of Higher Education. It is given to faculty and staff who are considered leaders in community service by their personal contributions and have made a sustainable impact within the institution .
His most recent book, American Karma: Race, Culture, and Identity and the Indian Diaspora (New York University Press, 2007), is based on an extensive, two-year ethnography of the middle-class Indian diaspora in Southern Connecticut.
American Karma draws on participant observation and in-depth interviews to explore how these privileged minorities have been inserted into the racial dynamics of American society and transformed into "people of color." The discourses of identity produced in this book analyze how many professional Indians deal with the profound contradiction of acknowledging their otherness and difference on one level and yet are willing to background their racial and cultural differences. The books advances the field of psychology by incorporating critical issues related to the concept of culture, including race, power, and conflict and also provides key insights for the fields of anthropology, sociology, human development and Asian American studies.
Sunil Bhatia has published over a dozen articles and book chapters on issues related to language, self, immigrant identity and cultural psychology. His articles have appeared in journals such as Early Education and Development, Human Development, Theory and Psychology, History of Psychology, Culture and Psychology, Journal of Moral Education, Mind, Culture, and Activity and Narrative Inquiry.
In 2006, Bhatia started Friends of Shelter Associates (FSA), a local chapter of the Indian nonprofit organization, Shelter Associates. The mission of FSA is to raise funds for the construction of community and individual toilets in one of the poorest slums settlements in Maharashtra and to raise awareness of global poverty and poor sanitation conditions in Indian slums. An article on FSA appeared in the online newspaper India New England . Visit the FSA website, http://www.friendsofsa.org/
Sunil Bhatia is the senior co-editor of a Special (along with Hank Stam, August 2005) of Theory and Psychology titled Critical Engagements with Culture and Self.
Visit the human development department website.
Coverage about Sunil Bhatia's book American Karma: Race, Culture, and Identity and the Indian Diaspora:
The Providence Journal, April 6, 2008: "Author: Indian expatriates in 2 worlds"
National Public Radio: "'Where We Live Talks with Sunil Bhatia about his book American Karma," December 18, 2007