Santa Monica College Logo


Sohini Ray

    Lecturer in    Anthropology

Department of Earth Sciences

Dr. Sohini Ray was born in Kolkata (originally named Calcutta), India and received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in anthropology from University of Calcutta, India. She ranked first in the University (receiving a first class) in both bachelor’s and master’s degree winning the Jubilee merit prize, the national merit scholarship and the prestigious University Gold medal.

Aside from her academic pursuits she was trained as a classical dance specializing in Manipuri dance by the legendary master-artiste late Guru Bipin Singh since childhood and danced professionally full-time with the renowned Jhaveri sisters dance company through the school and college careers winning several scholarships and prizes.

She moved to University of California, Los Angeles to pursue a second master’s in Dance specializing in Dance-ethnology (anthropology of dance), and later received her Ph.D. in linguistic anthropology from University of California, Los Angeles.

She has been a fellow in the Center for the Study of World Religions, Harvard University and also the University of California Humanities Research Institute in University of California, Irvine. Her academic research interest includes language and writing, religion, ritual and performing arts of South Asia. Dr. Ray has been a consulting anthropologist in the ‘Art of Rice’ project in UCLA fowler Museum of cultural history and also the ‘Historic homes of Pasadena’ project in the Pasadena Museum of history. She has been as an ethnographic research consultant in Smart Revenue Inc. doing market research for a multinational corporation.

Dr Ray is the founder and artistic director of Manipuri Dance Visions: Institute of Manipuri Dance, an institution dedicated to the preservation and propagation of Manipuri dance in southern California. The performance unit of her institution the Manipuri Dance Visions Ensemble is considered the premiere Manipuri dance company in the world, having performed and toured in several prestigious venues in Europe and North America. The research and archival unit of her institute has one of the largest collections of books, manuscripts and footage of rare ritual dances from temples of Manipur.

Her research on anthropology of dance has won the prestigious JB Donne prize in anthropology of art from Royal anthropological Institute, UK. She was the first dance-researcher in the world ever to win this rare accolade.  The film version of her multi-media production ‘Sounds and Lights of Devotion’ was a finalist nominee for the Margaret Mead award given by the Society of Applied Anthropology, American Anthropological Association for showing dance as an application of anthropology.

She has taught in the anthropology department in University of California, Irvine; in the Theater and Dance Department of university of California, Santa Barbara and in the Dance Education program in New York University. In Santa Monica College she founded the Linguistic anthropology curriculum where she now teaches.  One of the research papers supervised by her won the international student prize given by the Society of Community Colleges, American Anthropological Association.




Courses taught:

In Santa Monica College
Introduction to Linguistic Anthropology
Introduction to cultural anthropology 

In University of California, Irvine
Introduction to Cultural anthropology
Modern South Asian Religions 

In University of California, Santa Barbara
History of South Asian performance
Globalization and Performance: Asia



Last update:  10/30/12