Fulbright adventure: Marblehead professor has special connection to India, history

Marblehead resident and Salem State University professor Michele Louro has just returned from her latest trip to India with the Fulbright Scholar program, where she spent two months conducting research for a new book and teaching.

Marblehead professor Michele Louro has just returned from her latest trip to India. COURTESY PHOTO

“It’s a cross-cultural, online teaching experience with students from Jawaharlal Nehru University and Salem State,” Louro told the Marblehead Current. “The four-week class explores colonialism, anti-colonialism and women — thinking about women and their importance in this history.”

Britain colonized India in 1858 and ruled there until 1947.

“One of my goals is to not only teach history, but to teach students to be global citizens of the world,” she said.

In her three Fulbright trips since 2008, Louro has fallen in love with India.

“It’s a fascinating place and just rich in diversity and history,” she said. “The people are interesting. I’ve developed friends and collaborations. It makes me want to come back.”

Louro has traveled much of the country, which measures 1,269,219 square miles. She spoke to the Current from the city of Chennai in south India.

“It’s wicked hot here,” she laughed. “It’s 95 degrees, and there’s no breeze.”

She’s been to Goa, Mumbai and, of course, the Taj Mahal in Agra.

“New Dehli is my favorite spot,” she said. “It feels like my home away from home.”

Michele Louro, center, with her students and colleagues in India. COURTESY PHOTO

Louro has already written a book, “Comrades Against Imperialism: Nehru, India and Interwar Internationalism.”

Her new book takes a different tack. 

“It will bring women to the front of these anti-colonial struggles,” she said.

She explained why lessons about India’s colonial past are still relevant today.

“The roots of our modern world are tied to colonialism — the way power is structured, protests are laid out. A lot of the ideas of our own world are legacies of the colonial period, and that’s the argument of the class.”

Louro has many funny stories about living abroad for months at a time. 

“There are always a lot of mishaps,” she said. “Maybe my biggest challenge was riding around in the rickshaws. You get to know the drivers and talk to them. Everybody’s meter is ripped out of their rickshaw, so you end up negotiating.”

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