Asian Studies Advisory Board

  • Amy Allocco
    Associate Professor of Religious Studies
    Spence Pavilion-Religion/Phil. 209
    2340 Campus Box Elon, NC 27244
    (336) 278-6484

    Dr. Allocco joined the Elon faculty in 2009 after earning her PhD in Emory University's Program in West & South Asian Religions in the Graduate Division of Religion.  She holds a Master’s of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School (2001) and a Bachelor’s degree from Colgate University (1997). 

    Allocco’s research focuses on vernacular Hinduism and ritual traditions in the state of Tamil Nadu in South India, where she has been studying and conducting fieldwork for the past 20 years.  She specializes in performance and ritual studies and has particular interests in gender, women’s religious roles and practices, and goddess traditions. Her dissertation, “Snake Goddesses and Anthills: Modern Challenges and Women's Ritual Responses in Contemporary South India,” paired textual reading of Sanskrit and Tamil sources with more than a year of ethnographic research in its analysis of contemporary snake goddess traditions and the repertoire of ritual therapies performed to mitigate naga dosam (snake blemish), a malignant horoscopic condition understood to cause delayed marriage and infertility.  Allocco’s work is animated by interests in the forms of religious change inspired by the new social and economic realities that characterize contemporary India -- especially ritual innovation and the ways in which local deities may expand their repertoires to assume new ritual tasks -- as well as narrative, everyday Hinduism, and religious practice in urban India.

    Her dissertation, “Snake Goddesses and Anthills: Modern Challenges and Women's Ritual Responses in Contemporary South India,” paired textual reading of Sanskrit and Tamil sources with more than a year of ethnographic research in its analysis of contemporary snake goddess traditions and the repertoire of ritual therapies performed to mitigate naga dosam (snake blemish), a malignant horoscopic condition understood to cause delayed marriage and infertility.  Allocco's current project, "Domesticating the Dead: Invitation and Installation Rituals in Tamil South India," investigates the ongoing ritual relationships that Hindus maintain with their dead. Within this repertoirse she concentrates especially on ceremonies to honor deceased relatives called puvataikkari (“the woman wearing flowers”), including those performed annually to seek generalized blessings and the  occasional, elaborate invitation rituals in which ritual drummers summon the spirit, convince it to possess a human host, and beg it to “come home” as a protective family deity.

    Dr. Allocco has been awarded fellowships by the American Institute of Indian Studies (AIIS), Fulbright, the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and the American Association of University Women (AAUW), to support her research and writing. In 2012 she earned Elon's College of Arts and Sciences Excellence in Teaching Award. Her courses include Hindu Traditions; Hindu Goddesses; Women in Islam; Hindu Textual Traditions; Women, Religion and Ethnography; and Ghosts, Demons & Ancestors in Asian Religions. Along with Dr. Brian Pennington she also co-teaches a Winter Term study abroad course titled "India's Identities: Religion, Caste and Gender in Contemporary South India" in alternate years.

  • Xiaolin Duan
    Assistant Professor of History
    Lindner Hall - Arts & Sciences 101B
    2335 Campus Box Elon, NC 27244
    (336) 278-6425
    Specialty: China, East Asia, World History, Social and Cultural History, Urban Studies, Popular Religion, Material Culture

    Dr. Xiaolin Duan joined the Elon faculty in 2015 after teaching in Luther College, Iowa as a visiting professor for one year. Dr. Duan earned her PhD in University of Washington, Seattle in Chinese history (2014) and a Bachelor’s degree from Peking University (2008).

    Her research specialization focuses on socio-cultural history in medieval and early modern China, particularly urban history, popular religion, and visual/material culture. She is currently working on two research projects: one is a book manuscript titled “Leisure and Nature: Sightseeing around Hangzhou’s West Lake in Medieval China.” It explores how sightseeing activities influenced the way people interacted with and conceptualized the surrounding environment. The other project explores the connections between the global passion for silk and state-society relationships by tracing the production and trade of silk textiles in 17th-century China and Mexico.

    Dr. Duan teaches Chinese and East Asian history, including topical courses on globalization of China, material culture, popular religion, women's history and environmental history. She also offers courses on the world in the 20th century and global core course on “The Sense of Place.” Both her research and teaching feature cross-cultural inquiry and incorporation of visual/material culture.


  • Binnan Gao
    Lecturer in Chinese
    Carlton Building 330
    2125 Campus Box Elon, NC 27244
    (336) 278-5238

    Binnan Gao received her Ph.d in second language acquisition from University of Iowa in 2009. She was formally employed at Harvard University before joining Elon faculty in 2014. She believes in engaging students with meaningful and real-life tasks in the language classroom and is passionate about teaching Chinese language and culture through films. Her scholarly interests include second language reading and writing, second language acquisition of grammar and vocabulary, and heritage learners. Her hometown is Harbin, the capital city of the farthest north province of China, Heilongjiang province. She misses its cool breeze and picnic on the Songhua riverside in the summer, beautiful ice-sculptures in the winter, and the local cuisine and snacks, such as the wine filled chocolate and sourdough. 

  • Raj Gupta
    Associate Professor of Finance and Director of the William Garrard Reed Finance Center
    Koury Business Center 222
    2075 Campus Box Elon, NC 27244
    (336) 278-5962

    Neeraj J. Gupta, associate professor of finance and director of the Reed Finance Center at Elon University, has a doctorate in finance from the University of Connecticut, and is an active CFA charterholder.  He received a bachelor’s degree in engineering from the University of Delhi and an MBA from Babson College.  He has over ten years of industry experience in Asia, Europe, North America, and South America, having worked for Nestlé, Xerox, and Claridges Investments (a boutique asset management firm).

    Neeraj has taught various finance courses, covering, the principles of finance, corporate finance, and investments, to undergraduate and MBA students at both Elon and UConn.  He has led study abroad business courses to the Pacific Rim (Australia, Cambodia, China, Hong Kong SAR, Indonesia, Macau SAR, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam) and to the Indo-Gulf (India and Dubai).

    His research interests are in investments, corporate finance, financial planning and international finance with ongoing research in sustainable investing, designing efficient retirement portfolios, valuing intangible investments, fund-flows & returns in emerging markets, and valuing long-dated options.

    In the recent past, Neeraj has consulted for The Clearing House, the Business North Carolina magazine, and the NC Special Court for Complex Business Cases.

  • Jason Kirk
    Associate Professor of Political Science and Policy Studies
    Gray Pavilion - Pol. Science 210D
    2333 Campus Box Elon, NC 27244
    (336) 278-6633
    Specialty: Politics and International Relations of India

    I joined the Elon faculty in 2008. My Ph.D. (2005) is in political science from the University of Pennsylvania, and I previously taught at The Virginia Military Institute (2006-08).

    I was born in Chapel Hill, grew up in Charlotte, and graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a B.A. (1997) in international studies and journalism & mass communication. I developed an interest in India as an undergraduate, originally intending to pursue photojournalism, and spent a semester in Bangalore in 1996. It was an extraordinary time to experience this dynamic city, still early in its emergence as a center of India's IT revolution.

    The surprise nuclear tests by India and Pakistan in May 1998 (and a token of advice from my favorite journalist, Steve Coll) sealed my intent to pursue advanced study of contemporary India and South Asia. As a child of the late Cold War, I continue to have an interest in nuclear proliferation and deterrence, but my main scholarly interests are in the politics of India. My dissertation at Penn, on the evolution of World Bank assistance to India, laid the foundation for my book India and the World Bank: The Politics of Aid and Influence (London, New York and Delhi: Anthem Press, 2011, 2010).

    I live in Chapel Hill with my wife Deepa, a clinical endocrinologist at UNC, and our children Arun (b. 2002) and Uma (b. 2006). I am an avid reader, runner, and watcher of Tar Heel basketball. I enjoy rock and Americana music, and I'm always open to suggestions for songs with political themes to play before class begins.

  • Glenn Scott
    Associate Professor of Communications
    Schar Hall- Communications Bld 214E
    2850 Campus Box Elon, NC 27244
    (336) 278-5791

    Glenn W. Scott teaches courses in journalism, media writing, research, international communications and occasionally in sports & media at Elon.  Starting in the 2016-17 academic year, he is serving as faculty in residence and living along with his family in an apartment in Elon's Global Neighborhood. His aim is to engage students in academically vibrant conversations and activities outside of classrooms. He also is serving as adviser to one of the best-known residential communities on campus, the International Living & Learning Community, which also calls home one of the residence halls on the north side of campus, known as the Global Neighborhood. This community offers students chances for multicultural interaction, as about half of the students are U.S. residents and the others come from nations around the world.

    His research interests focus on participatory journalism, commentary writing, media practices in the Asia-Pacific region, and coverage of international sporting activities.  He also takes pride in mentoring undergraduates in their scholarship.  As campus coordinator for the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, he aims to give students real looks at the importance of international humanitarian reporting.

    In the 2011-12 school year, thanks to a Fulbright grant, he taught courses on global media and U.S. culture(s) at the University of the Ryukyus in Okinawa, Japan.  He has worked and lived in Japan for a total of four years.

    After a year fully enrolled at the University of Hawaii, Manoa, as an Asian Studies fellow, he earned his doctorate in journalism from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Prior to his return to higher education, he worked for more than two decades as a newspaper editor, metro columnist, and reporter at papers including The Honolulu Advertiser, The Modesto Bee, Nikkei Weekly, and Pacific Stars & Stripes (in Japan).  In a parallel career, he traveled widely as a correspondent covering international volleyball, working at many championship events, including a handful of Olympic summer games.

  • Rhonda Waller
    Director of Study Abroad
    Global Commons 308
    2375 Campus Box Elon, NC 27244
    (336) 278-5185

    Rhonda joined the staff in the Isabella Cannon Global Education Center in September 2014.  She is eager to continue work towards the institutional goal of 100% access to global engagement as articulated in The Elon Commitment strategic plan.


    Waller is currently involved in several campus committees and initiatives including:

    • Experiential Education Advisory Committee 
    • Convening Offices for Diversity Education (CODE) Team
    • GEC Advisory Committee, non-voting member
    • Global Education Curriculum Committee, non-voting member
    • Asian Studies Committee
    • International Studies Committee
  • Pamela Winfield
    Associate Professor of Religious Studies
    Spence Pavilion-Religion/Phil. 212
    2340 Campus Box Elon, NC 27244
    (336) 278-5128
  • Honglin Xiao
    Associate Professor of Geography
    Lindner Hall - Arts & Sciences 112H
    2335 Campus Box Elon, NC 27244
    (336) 278-6408
  • Chalmers Brumbaugh
    Adjunct Professor Emeritus of Political Science
    Powell House 202
    2333 Campus Box Elon, NC 27244
    (336) 278-6489

    Chalmers Brumbaugh joined the Department of Political Science and Public Administration at Elon University in 1986.  Throughout his career, Brumbaugh has devoted his energies to Elon’s model of engaged and experiential learning.  In 1995 he was honored at Elon for his outstanding work in the area of Service Learning.  In 2008, the University bestowed Brumbaugh with its Award for Excellence in Mentoring.  In 2011 and 2012, he was named Advisor of the Year in North Carolina for his work with Elon’s chapter of the North Carolina Student Legislature.  Currently, Brumbaugh oversees the International Studies program.  During the traditional semester periods, Brumbaugh teaches courses in Latin American politics and American Government.  During the winter term, Brumbaugh takes students to Costa Rica to study Latin American politics, history and culture.

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