Sunil Bhatia

Professor of Human Development

Joined Connecticut College: 1999

On sabbatical Fall 2015

B.A., M.A., University of Pune, India
M.Ed., Ph.D., Clark University


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." 

In December 2014, The American Psychological Association selected Bhatia for the prestigious APA 2015 Humanitarian of the Year award. As APA states, this award is “the highest honor the association has to recognize humanitarian services by psychologists, particularly those working in the field under trying circumstances and with underserved populations."

In 2011, Campus Compact, a national organization selected Sunil as one of the runners-up for the nationally known Thomas Ehrlich Civically Engaged Faculty Award, bestowed annually to recognize faculty for exemplary leadership in advancing students’ civic learning, community engagement, and contributions to the public good.

He served as the director of the Holleran Center for Community Action and Public Policy from 2008 to 2011.

In 2009, he received the College's Martin Luther King Jr. Faculty Service Award, given to a faculty member 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, given to faculty and staff who are considered leaders in community service by their personal contributions and who have made a sustainable impact within the institution.

Bhatia has published over 30 articles and book chapters on issues related to transnational migration, identity, and cultural psychology. His articles have appeared in journals including American Psychologist, Human Development, Theory and Psychology, History of Psychology, and Culture and Psychology, and Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology. He was recently appointed as one of the Associate editor of Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology and he also serves on the editorial board of the journals Qualitative Psychology and History of Psychology. Bhatia is also currently serving as the Program Chair for the Division 24 of American Psychological Association for 2015. In 2014, the American Psychological Association elected Bhatia as a “fellow” for his outstanding local, national and international contributions to the field of psychology.

His most recent book, American Karma: Race, Culture, and Identity and the Indian Diaspora (New York University Press, 2007), was 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.

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 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,


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

Contact Sunil Bhatia

Mailing Address

Sunil Bhatia
Connecticut College
Box #5474
270 Mohegan Ave.
New London, CT 06320


123 Bolles House