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Suchitra Samanta

Suchitra Samanta, Associate Professor Collegiate Faculty

Suchitra Samanta, Collegiate Associate Professor
Suchitra Samanta, Associate Professor Collegiate Faculty

Department of Sociology
546 McBryde Hall 
225 Stanger Street 
Blacksburg, VA 24061
540-231-7528 |

My dissertation and earlier publications, based on field research, are on cultural aspects of religious experience and practices among devotees of the eminent Hindu goddess Kali in Kolkata, India. My later research and publications address Muslim women and issues of minority status, gender, poverty and female literacy in India.

My most recent published work is on Asian American female students at community college in the U.S. This is a qualitative study that enquires into, for example, “contexts of exit” from the country of origin, reasons for leaving, family background, levels of education, courses of study at the college, possible gender differences and constraints, socioeconomic status, sources of support (including financial aid, family, ethnic and religious communities) and centrally, the role of the American community college as this facilitates Asian aspirations in the United States.

The study, at its inception, questions the “model minority myth,” which stereotypes Asians in general. The study also seeks to understand the reality of those Asians who do not fit that model as they seek opportunity in the United States.

Field-based research on higher educational aspirations of recently relocated South Asian Bhutanese-Nepali refugees to the U.S. has been presented at several conferences, and planned as a journal article. I have a published anthology of Bengali short fiction, translated by myself (Hauntings, 2000), and my book “Kali in Bengali Lives. Narratives of Religious Experience” was published in 2021.

  • Hindu beliefs related to eminent female deities, and religious experience
  • Indian Muslim women and education
  • Asian American students in American community college
  • Ph.D., University of Virginia
  • M.A., Univeristy of Virginia (Cultural Anthropology)
  • M.A., University of Virginia (Drama/Playwriting)
  • B.A., Lady Brabourne College
  • Jazz India, Kolkata Chapter, former Manager
  • Women's Resource Center, Radford, VA, former At-Large Member of the Board of Directors
  • 2017: Snizek Award, Virginia Tech Department of Sociology
  • 2012: SPORN award for teaching introductory subjects, Virginia Tech
  • 2012: Women and Minority Artists and Scholars Lecture Series Scholarship
  • 2009: Women and Minority Artists and Scholars Lecture Series Scholarship


Samanta, S. "Kali in Bengali Lives. Narratives of Religious Experience." Under contract with Lexington Books (2021).

Samanta, S. “Sanctuary. Stories of Kolkata, its Gods, and its People.” [An anthology of my short fiction]. Kolkata, India: Dasgupta & Co./Dasgupta-Alliance (2012).

“Hauntings. Thirteen Stories from Bangla's Master Storytellers.” [An anthology of stories on the supernatural which foreground female protagonists, across 100 years of Bengali literature, translated and edited by myself]. New Delhi, India: Katha Vilasam (2000).

Journal Articles

  • 2020 (December): “Muslim Women and Education in India,” to appear in print (in Volume 4, Colonialism, Education, Governance, of a 9 volume set, Encyclopedia of Women & Islamic Cultures 2010-2020. Leiden: Brill
  • 2018: “The American Community College as “Stepping Stone”: Opportunity, Agency, and Family in Asian and Asian-American Women’s Educational Histories,” Journal of Asian American Studies (Johns Hopkins University), October, 21.3: 367-393
  • 2017: “Muslim Women and Education in India,” under Education: Modern: India,” in Encyclopedia of Women in Islamic Cultures (EWIC), Online Edition, Supplement16, Suad Joseph, General Ed. Leiden: Brill
  • 2016: "From Bogura to Calcutta Medical College in Colonial India and Beyond: A Postcolonial and Feminist Perspective on my Mother’s Life" in Bangladesh e-Journal of Sociology (University of Dhaka), July v.13 (2): 39-50
  • 2016: “An Interpretive Auto/Biographical reading of Studio-Posed Photographs: Telling my Mother’s Life in Colonial and Post-colonial India,” in Biography. An Interdisciplinary Journal of Biographical Research (University of Hawaii), Vol. 39 (2): 172-196, spring
  • 2016: “Education as a Path to “Being Someone:” Muslim Women’s Narratives of Aspiration, Obstacles, and Achievement in an Impoverished Basti in Kolkata, India,” in Frontiers. A Journal of Women Studies (University of Nebraska Press), 37 (3): 151-174
  • 2016: “Making Visible Asians and Asian-Americans in Introductory Women’s Studies Courses: the Personal Voice in Pedagogy, Making Feminist Connections across Diversity,” Feminist Teacher (University of Illinois Press), 25.2/3: 94-110
  • 2004: "The 'War on Terror,' and Withdrawing American Charity: Some Consequences for Poor Muslim Women in Kolkata, India. In Meridians. Feminism, Race, Transnationalism, Vol. 4 (2): 137-167
  • 2001: “Education and Women’s ‘Autonomy’: An NGO’s Efforts in a Calcutta Basti.” In Bengal Studies—A Collection of Essays, edited by Rama D. Datta, Zillur Rahman, & Clinton B. Seely. Allied Publishers. Chapter 17, Pg. 253-275
  • 1998: “The Powers of the Guru: Sakti, “Mind,” and Miracles in Narratives of Bengali Religious Experience” in Anthropology and Humanism, Vol. 23 (1): 30-50
  • 1994: “The ‘Self-Animal’ and Divine Digestion: Goat Sacrifice to the Goddess Kali in Bengal” in the Journal of Asian Studies, Vol. 53 (3): 779-803
  • 1992: “Mangalmayima, Sumangali, Mangal: Bengali Perceptions of the Divine Feminine, Motherhood, and ‘Auspiciousness’” in Contributions to Indian Sociology (n.s.), Vol. 26 (1): 51-75
  • 2019: (March) Curriculum Globalization Grant, for globalizing Introduction to WGS course, Office of Global Education, Virginia Tech ($3,500)
  • 2015: Niles grant, College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences (CLAHS), Virginia Tech
  • 1993: National Endowment for the Humanities one-year Fellowship for project on the worship of the Goddess Kali and religious experience in Bengal ($23,000, January-September 1993)
  • 1991: Institute for Intercultural Studies (national) Grant for Post-doctoral field research in India on the Goddess Kali and religious experience ($2,500, August-November 1992)
  • 1986: Institute for Intercultural Studies (national) Grant for Dissertation research in India on the Goddess Kali and religious experience in Bengal ($2,500, August 1986-March 1987

2018: “Bhutanese-Nepali Refugee Students in Higher Education in the U.S.: What is working, what’s not,” to Community Psychology and Prevention Research Group, Department of Psychology, University of Virginia (April 10)

Various courses in the Women’s & Gender Studies program, including the introductory course, and on feminist activism (involving experiential learning), global/transnational feminism, and the capstone course. I have developed and taught courses on women in South Asia, and on gender and Asian America. I developed and teach a course, “Asian American Experience”

  • 2020-21: Colloquium Committee, Department of Sociology
  • 2019-2020: (spring) External member on search committee for English department, for Collegiate Assistant Professor in Composition and Rhetoric
  • 2019: Honors Committee (Sociology)
  • 2018-20: Teaching Excellence Committee (Sociology Department)
  • 2017-18: The President’s Gender@VT Committee, on subcommittee for Child and Elder Care (University)

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