Kakali Bhattacharya, professor in the School of Human Development and Organizational Studies in Education, was recognized with the Distinguished Contribution to Research and Scholarship Award by the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) Asian Pacific Islander Knowledge Community (APIKC). 

This esteemed award honors those whose research and scholarship has made significant contributions that “further the understanding of the experiences of, issues within, and needs of the Asian/Pacific Islander/Desi Americans community” in higher education. 

Bhattacharya has served at the College of Education since 2019 and has explored equitable and de/colonizing methodologies of inquiry for more than 15 years. Her body of research focuses on de/colonizing methodologies, ontoepistemologies, and ethics in addition to transnational and equity based issues in higher education. Integrating creative, critical and contemplative approaches in qualitative inquiry, she strives to create inclusive and culturally resonant approaches to research.

“Dr. Bhattacharya has brought a wealth of knowledge, passion and perspective to the university,” said College of Education Dean Glenn Good. “This award recognizes the impact of her research as her scholarship continues to uncover inequities in higher education.”

Kakali Bhattacharya

Kakali Bhattacharya

In her latest work, she has created a Par/Desi theory to reflect the experiences of diasporic, first, second and third generation South Asians within the U.S. and beyond.

When you’re called to do a certain kind of work, and you respond to the call, it is not because of awards or the social, academic currency of the work, Bhattacharya said. It is because of a certain ethical compulsion coming from deep within that lights up a path ahead without any guarantee of recognition. I was on this path of no expectations, just doing the work that felt compelling.

“South Asian transnational, diasporic, and international work in higher education in the U.S. is not always centered or deemed important,” she continued. “With dichotomous discourses of race in the U.S., South Asians are often rendered invisible or hypervisible. Carving a path of dignity and complexity around experiences of South Asians, Desi people in higher education was purpose-driven for me. To be recognized with value for this purpose is deeply affirming, fills me up with gratitude, and fuels me to go further.”

Bhattacharya will be recognized for this achievement at the Virtual NASPA National Conference on March 23, 2021.