Yale’s November initiatives to expand global course offerings are moving forward as the University is targeting a star academic for the first of three interdisciplinary professorships in international studies.

Celebrated cultural anthropologist Arjun Appadurai is the leading candidate for one of the three new professorships instituted last year, said Gustav Ranis, chair of the Yale Center for International and Area Studies. The potential hire also would bulk up Yale’s burgeoning offers in South Asian studies.

“It’s still in the process,” Ranis said of efforts to lure the noted University of Chicago scholar to New Haven. “[But] the main question is, ‘Will we make an offer that is attractive?'”

Yale has yet to make an offer but has attempted to accelerate the process that allows it to make a tenure offer by designating Appadurai an “eminent person.” Ranis said the earliest Appadurai potentially could arrive at Yale would be July 1, 2002.

Appadurai visited Yale recently to discuss the idea of becoming an Eli.

“I am entirely serious about this possibility, which indicates a new degree of interest at Yale in things interdisciplinary, international and global,” Appadurai wrote in an e-mail.

Appadurai would receive a joint appointment in the anthropology and sociology departments, as well as a courtesy appointment in the political science department, Ranis said.

Appadurai, the director of the Globalization Project at the University of Chicago, researches globalization from several different perspectives and has particular expertise in the study of South Asia, Ranis said.

Yale has continued its efforts to expand its course offerings relating to South Asia, an area in which the University has lacked strength until recently. The success of the Hindi language program and this year’s hiring of junior history professor Mridu Rai are two of several recent improvements.

After these achievements, gaining the expertise of Appadurai would further strengthen Yale’s South Asian offerings.

“If he came, it would really be a capstone,” Ranis said.

The Consultative Group on International Activities at Yale, which includes the executive committee of YCIAS and the deans of most schools at Yale, is leading the efforts to fill the three new international studies professorships. The group has a list of several other potential candidates with interdisciplinary expertise on international affairs, but will not move ahead because only one of the three professorships has funding in place thus far, Ranis said.

These professorships are part of the University’s larger globalization efforts. Initiatives announced in November include the creation of the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization under the direction of former Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott ’68 and the new World Fellows program, which will bring scholars from around the world to study international issues.

Ranis said he hopes Yale will bring in Appadurai as the next step in these plans, although he added that he does not want to jump the gun.

“The problem is we can’t count our chickens before they’re hatched,” Ranis said.