Dr. Soma Chaudhuri named Sociology Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Coordinator

May 17, 2021

Dr. Soma Chaudhuri (pronounced: Sho-ma Chow-dhu-ree), Associate Professor of Sociology, has been named the Department of Sociology's first Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Coordinator. She begins her two-year term on the week of May 17.

Dr. Soma Chaudhuri"I am delighted and honored to be the first DEI coordinator for the Department of Sociology. Diversity, Equity and Inclusion represents the core values of our University, College and that of our Department. Over the next two years I will be working towards enhancing an inclusive climate within our department that celebrates diversity in our community through our various intellectual and academic pursuits," Dr. Chaudhuri wrote. "At the same time, we will be working hard towards understanding and tackling our own implicit biasness so that we can serve our department, college and university better. 

Among her goals over the next 24 months are centering the core values of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, as well as improving the general climate of the Department. 

She hopes to achieve these goals through training sessions toward understand and reducing biases, meeting with various stakeholders, creating a list of available MSU resources for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and working toward fostering a climate of mutual trust and respect.

"I will be meeting with various DEI unites across the College and University at MSU both toward increasing our department's visibility and commitment, and learning how other units are working toward these shared accomplishments that contribute toward the core mission," Dr. Chaudhuri wrote.

Dr. Chaudhuri has also established office hours for Department faculty, students and staff to contact her to discuss Diversity, Equity and Inclusion issues. For an appointment, please contact Dr. Chaudhuri at chaudh30@msu.edu.

Finally, Dr. Chaudhuri is asking everyone in the Department to take proactive steps to educate themselves on issues of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion by completing implicit-bias related training offered through MSU Human Resources, as well as to read books and articles about how to be anti-racist over the summer. 

"We have a lot of work to do in front of us, and the current global events have not made it any easier on us," she wrote.

Dr. Chaudhuri is a qualitative sociologist whose research lies at the intersection of gender, development, social movements and violence. Dr. Chaudhuri started her career studying the incidents of witch hunts among an Adivasi tea plantation community in India. She found that contrary to popular opinions, witchcraft accusations leading to witch hunts are not the “exotic primitive performances of a backward community,” but rather can be interpreted as a powerful protest organized by a marginalized and much oppressed community.

Over the last decade, Dr. Chaudhuri conducted a study funded by National Science Foundation that analyzed the impact of participation in empowerment programs on women’s lives studied largely through the awareness and assertion of rights. Findings from the study point to complex patterns of lifelong interactions with bargaining and negotiations that women make that involves both, accommodations with patriarchy in some contexts and assertion of their rights and agency in others. Some of Dr. Chaudhuri’s current work includes social movements around race and protest policing (with Jennifer Cobbina and others), the impact of pandemics on migrants (with Elizabeth Chacko, Bandana Purkayastha and others; funded by SSRC), and the publication of a witch studies reader (with Jane Ward).

Born in United Kingdom and raised in Kolkata India, Dr. Chaudhuri completed her BA degree in Sociology from Presidency College (now Presidency University), and MA degree in Sociology from Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi. She completed her MA and PhD degrees in Sociology from Vanderbilt University, Nashville. She joined Michigan State University in 2008, initially as a fixed term faculty member, before moving on to the tenure track in 2011 and earning tenure in 2017.