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Memorandum of Understanding signed with the prestigious IITM

Memorandum of Understanding signed with the prestigious IITM

Massey University has signed a five-year Memorandum of Understanding with the Indian Institute of Technology Madras, making it the first university in Aotearoa New Zealand to formally partner with the highly regarded institution.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) formally recognises that Massey and the Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IITM) have common interests and that there will be mutual benefits from collaboration and cooperation.

The areas for potential collaboration and cooperation include collaborative research activities, collaborative applications for third-party funding, participation in seminars and academic meetings, exchanges of publications, academic materials, and other information and exchanges of existing staff.

The MOU is the result of a relationship between College of Humanities and Social Sciences Associate Professor Robyn Andrews and Associate Professor Merin Simi Raj of IITM.

Dr. Andrews says she first heard from Dr. Simi Raj in October 2015.

“She emailed saying she’d been following my Anglo-Indian (AI) studies research. I completed my AI-focused anthropology Ph.D. in 2005 and she was beginning some of her own and was also supervising a Ph.D. student working in the AI Studies field. She reached out hoping we might meet the next time I was in India, and perhaps find an AI studies project we could collaborate on.”

In 2017 and 2018, Dr. Andrews and Dr. Simi Raj co-convened two Anglo-India-themed conferences, fully funded by IITM. Both were three-day events with a huge number of abstracts submitted – over 200 for the 2017 event and over 60 for the second.

In February 2019 Dr. Andrews spent two weeks at IITM working with Dr. Simi Raj on their book. She was also invited to give a seminar to postgraduate students.

“In August 2019 I delivered a guest lecture to 50-60 students at IITM as part of the Education New Zealand roadshow. During this visit we discussed the possibility of formalising the relationship between our two institutions,” Dr. Andrews says.

The collaboration between the two continued in 2020, when Dr. Simi Raj had an article published in the journal International Journal of Anglo-Indian Studies, which Dr. Andrews is a co-editor of. This journal was supported by Massey.

In February 2021 the two academics published Anglo-Indian Identity: Past and Present, in India and the Diaspora through Palgrave Macmillan.

Dr. Andrews says the book was initially based on the 2017 and 2018 conferences.

“We had two launches, one in August in Palmerston North which was launched by College of Humanities and Social Sciences Pro Vice-Chancellor Professor Cynthia White and Emeritus Professor Sekhar Bandyopadhyay. The second one, also in August, was via Zoom, organised primarily by Merin. Amongst others, the President-in-Chief of the All India Anglo-Indian Association attended and spoke as one of the chief guests.”

This very successful collaboration then led to discussion around developing an MOU, which was finalised in early December 2022.

Professor White says she is thrilled with the agreement.

“The collaborative work that Robyn and Merin have done to date has been significant and we are really grateful for this new partnership. I am particularly excited about student and staff exchange and visiting scholar opportunities. IITM has a two-year Master of Arts programme in development studies, english studies and culture studies. We can explore the possibility of scholarly exchange between their students from this programme and our students from the Master of International Development, Master of Arts and Master of Sustainable Development Goals programmes as a starting point.”

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