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Sumitra Ranganathan

Literature & the Arts and Humanities & Social Sciences

Senior Assistant Professor of Music

Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley

Sumitra Ranganathan received her Ph.D. in Music from the University of California, Berkeley in 2015. She transitioned to the humanities after a sixteen-year career as an e-commerce specialist, with eight years at the middle manager level, prior to which, she was a research fellow in theoretical high-energy physics. Sumitra also has an M.S. in systems and information and an M.Sc. in physics. Sumitra’s research is situated within the humanistic disciplines of ethnomusicology, socio-cultural anthropology, music cognition, cultural studies and history. Her research interests are in the dynamics of tradition, intelligibility and categorical knowledge in the cultural traditions of post-colonial India, and in interrogating the meaningfulness and on-going relevance of cultural practices in developing senses of place and ethical behaviors. As part of her research, Sumitra has documented one of India’s most historic and valuable traditions of Dhrupad, the Bettiah gharana, which is today a seriously endangered practice. She has studied music with Pt. Falguni Mitra since 1989, and with Pt. Indra Kishore Mishra since 2007.

In addition to her core competence in the Humanities, during her career in the IT industry, Sumitra gained in-depth domain experience in environmental management, international trade logistics, and supply chain management. Most recently, she worked as a senior researcher in an Urban Governance action research group, and her domain knowledge expanded to include urban informality, human rights and solid waste management in Indian cities.

At Krea University, Sumitra will teach courses on topics related to Indian music and dance, ethnomusicology, socio-cultural anthropology, music cognition, and cultural studies. Previously, she has taught courses on musical traditions of different cultures, database and systems design, mathematics and physics. She particularly enjoys working with young adults on career and higher education trajectories, to explore nascent interests, fellowship opportunities, career choices and career paths.

A Howard Mayer Brown Fellow of the American Musicological Society (2009), Sumitra’s work has been supported by several fellowships including a Mabelle McLeod Lewis Memorial Fund dissertation fellowship (2012), a 12-month Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad fellowship (2010), and a special grant from the India Foundation for the Arts, Bengaluru, to develop a pilot technology-based environment to document and support endangered cultural practices (2012). She is currently working on a book project, supported in part by a two-year Senior Research Fellowship, Ministry of Culture, Government of India (2017 – 2019).

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