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Rucha Ambikar

Dr. Rucha Ambikar
Associate Professor


I was born and raised in India, and moved the United States for graduate studies. In India, I come from a family full of educators and I’ve been able to keep the family tradition alive by becoming a professor. After many years of being a student myself, the transition to being a professor seemed like a natural one and it is certainly a profession that I find tremendously rewarding. I taught at various institutions in the Seattle area before joining Bemidji State University in 2015.

At BSU, I teach courses in various dimensions of sociology, anthropology, and gender studies. One of my favorite classes to teach is the course on Race and Ethnic Relations because it gives me the chance to talk about an aspect of sociology that is central to understanding the world around us. I am passionate about helping students figure out how sociological theory relates to their lives and their experiences. I enjoy introducing students to ideas and cultures that might be new to them, and I am constantly looking for ways to include more information on Bollywood films and songs in all my classes!

My research expertise is in the areas of religion and nationalism and identity; most of my work is focused on India and communities in diaspora. I am committed to centering the experiences and knowledge of people that are typically marginalized. My current research includes a project on online trolling that I am working on with colleagues in different departments, as well as a study of student retention and attrition here at BSU. I have served on the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion council in the past and am currently part of the Center for Professional Development on campus.

In Bemidji, I have come to appreciate the natural beauty of our campus and the closer connections with students we’re able to make in our classes. Even after four years here, though, I confess to not making peace with the cold here!


Ph.D. in Social and Cultural Anthropology, California Institute of Integral Studies, CA.
M.A. in Mass Communication, Marquette University, WI.
M.A. in Sociology, Jawaharlal Nehru University, India.
B.A. in Sociology, University of Pune, India.


At BSU I have taught –

SOC 1104 Society and Social Issues
SOC 2230 Race and Ethnic Relations
SOC 2240 Men Women and Society
SOC 3003 Research Methods
SOC 3010 Social Theory
SOC 3080 Work and Careers
SOC 3090 Social and Ethical Issues in health and medicine
SOC 3270 Intersections of Sexuality and Gender
SOC 4800 Capstone in Sociology

ANTH 1100 Becoming Human: Tracing our Origins
ANTH 1110 Cultural Anthropology
ANTH 1930 Introduction to World Cultures
ANTH 1930 Anthropology of Religion
ANTH 1930 Myth, Ritual Religion

Research Interests

Race and Ethnicity, Anthropology of Religion, Nationalism, Identity, India and communities in diaspora

Recent Work

Ambikar, Rucha, Guentchev, Daniel and Lunt, Dennis. “Challenging and using comfort zone racism in the classroom.” Book chapter In Difficult Subjects: Insights and Strategies for Teaching about Race, Sexuality, and Gender. Eds. Badia and Poon. Stylus Publications. May 2018.

Ambikar, Rucha. “Teach America Great Again.” Blog post in Savage Minds: Notes and Queries in Anthropology.

Ambikar, Rucha and Lunt, Dennis. “In Teaching Race does the race of the teacher matter most?” The Chronicle of Higher Education. May 2016.

Ambikar, Rucha. Embodying the Enemy: Muslims in Hindutva Schools, Anthropology News, Sep 2012.

Barzilai-Nahon, Karine; Gomez, Ricardo; and Ambikar, Rucha. “Conceptualizing contextual measurements for Digital Divide/s: Using an Integrative Narrative.” in Overcoming Digital Divides: Constructing an Equitable and Competitive Information Society, (Eds.), Ferro E., Dwivedi Y.K., Ramon G, Williams M.D., Idea Group Inc. September 2009.

Gomez, Ricardo; Ambikar, Rucha; Coward, Chris. Libraries. “Telecentres and Cybercafés: An International Study of Public Access Information Venues.” In Performance Measurement and Metrics: The International Journal for Library and Information Services. Vol. 10, No. 1, 2009.

Ambikar, Rucha. “Educating the nation: The right way to citizenship in India. Ethical Citizenship and Post-Secondary Education.” The University College of Frasier Valley Research Review. Vol. 2, Issue 1, September 2008.