Research foundation celebrates 10 years

October 23, 2012

Professor Vijay Mishra

A Murdoch University foundation which supports research and discussion on transnational cultures, diasporas and related topics is celebrating its 10th year.

The Krishna Somers Foundation has been fostering work within the University as well as encouraging the participation of other Australian and international scholars interested in researching these topics since 2002 when it was established thanks to seed funding of $100,000 from Perth consultant physician/cardiologist Dr Krishna Somers.

Since then it has organised and funded dozens of talks and conferences for researchers allowing for theories of multiculturalism, migration studies and globalisation to be discussed and links between researchers to be made.

Professor Vijay Mishra, director of the foundation, said Dr Somers had a long-standing interest in the study of diasporas, which is defined as the movement, migration or scattering of people away from their established or ancestral homeland.

“We have been able to provide practical support and a stage for our invited guests who have been scholars, post-doctoral researchers and graduates working within their areas of specialisation from all over the world,” said Professor Mishra.

“Some of our guests have been funded by the Foundation to spend their sabbatical at Murdoch University which has resulted in collaborative work with Murdoch academics. This has been of benefit both to the visitor and the Murdoch staff.

“Initially our funding was to support research into diasporas, which is Dr Somers’ main interest, but over the years he has been happy for the Foundation to expand its interests into literature, colonialism and philosophy. We’ve even had an expert in Shakespeare speaking at one of our events.”

Professor Mishra said that among the Foundation’s highlights over the last 10 years was its recent contribution to a three day conference staged by the Indian Consulate in Perth which celebrated the 150th anniversary of the first Indian Nobel Laureate (in Literature) Rabindranath Tagore.

A number of scholars were flown to Perth in May for the event and the Krishna Somers Foundation was able to help with their costs, he said.

The Foundation has also made an ongoing commitment to the University’s philosophy program within the School of Social Sciences and Humanities by helping to fund its annual colloquiums. A similar yearly colloquium run by the postgraduates in English and Creative Arts has also been co-funded by the Somers Foundation.

“Without the support of the Foundation it’s possible many talks and conferences may not have been able to take place so we are very pleased with our first 10 years and we have lots to look forward to in the future,” added Professor Mishra.

With a gradual increase in its funding base, financial assistance for visiting scholars may be a distinct possibility.

For now, Professor Mishra is looking forward to the Foundation’s 10 year celebration event which will take place on Thursday, November 8, at Murdoch University.

He will be presenting a lecture about the author Salman Rushdie’s archive at the event, which takes place in the Education and Humanities building, room 4.078 from 10.30am.

For more details email Professor Mishra or Anne McBride.

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