Chair Professor

Nadarajah Ph.D.

Dr. M. Nadarajah (Nat) started his work life around the 1980s in the squatters of Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur) and India (Chennai). Since then, he has worked over the last 40 odd years in many capacities and positions, in many national and international organizations. His journey has taken him through a number of interconnected initiatives covering a wide range of areas: consumerism, environmentalism, media-ted realities and critical media education, philanthropy, education (including pre-school), people-oriented design development, institution building, software development, process management, strategic planning, urbanism, agroecology, alternative healing practices, inter-faith initiatives, sustainability and spirituality.

Nat has a number of books and documentaries to his credit.  In 1999, he published his doctoral thesis Culture, Gender and Ecology: Beyond Workerism (offering a non-workerist model of historical materialism). In his doctoral dissertation, he explored critical realities like human alienation, objectification, emancipatory subject, everyday life, and hegemonic power. It was his aim to explore the possibility of a humane future.

Though he has stopped now, over the years (1981 – 2007), he has produced a number of issue-based documentaries (mostly in India, but also in Malaysia) for various agencies and groups:  A Profile of Empowerment (On women’s  self-help and empowerment; Based on the work of a women’s group in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, 1988), Killing Fields (On the impact of pesticides on Indian farming and food production and about alternatives such as organic farming, 1989; Shot all over India), A Nation Mortgaged (About IMF’s Structural Adjustment Policy’s impact on the economy and society in India, 1994; largely based on news footages at the library of PTI television division), Christianity in Mizoram (Transaction between local Mizo culture and Christianity (largely Baptist), 1997; produced by the MIzoram state government and shot over a month all over Mizoram), Sustainable Penang (Exploring culture and sustainability in Penang, Malaysia, 2006), Lord’s Prayer (A conversation between man and God, Shot on steadicam as the conversation and the prayer proceeds; 2003),  and A Path Among Trees (Journey through indigenous Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines and Japan, 2007; based on still images and used for reflection)

He has worked as one of the principal researchers for a sustainable urbanisation project with a Japanese institute (IICRC) in Kanazawa, Japan for three years (2000-2002). The project covered urban centres in Japan, Korea, Malaysia and Nepal. As a result of his involvement with this project, Nat co-edited a book entitled Urban Crisis: Culture and Sustainability of Cities. In the conclusion of the book, the edited volume offers a unique perspective on urbanism, the Kanazawa School of Urban Sustainability. The book covered issues of culture as well as spirituality. The United Nation University (UNU) Press published it in early 2007.

Nat was involved around the same period in managing the Asian Communication Network (ACN), which was based at St. John University, Bangkok. People like Sir Augustine Loordusamy (formally with SIGNIS World), the late Fr. Jerry Martinson (the founder of Kuangchi Programme Service, Taiwan), Prof. Joe de Mesa (lay theologian based in ICTC, Manila) and Charles Bertille (associated with Fondacio, France/Manila) helped create it. It was set up as an Asian inter-faith, inter-disciplinary initiative to create learning and sustainable communities through participatory and dialogical communication and formation programmes. Through ACN, Nat has shared the meaning and practice of sustainability in many Catholic seminaries in Asia.

Between 2005 and 2006, Nat was an Asian Public Intellectual (API) Fellow. For this research fellowship on the culturally embedded notions of sustainability, he travelled, met and stayed with indigenous communities in Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines and Japan. Going through this ‘research pilgrimage’, the orientation presented by the indigenous peoples was quite apart from the UN definition on sustainable development. Unlike the UN’s orientation, the indigenous people experienced sustainability as the other side of spirituality.  It is a work that laid the foundation for a systematic critique of UN’s effort on sustainability issues and the state of the world today.

This research journey resulted in a pictorial book on sustainability and spirituality in 2014 entitled Living Pathways: Meditations on Sustainable Cultures and Cosmologies in Asia. The journey continues. He is presently working on Living Pathways II: Finding Ways Back to Nature. All these experiences have encouraged him to share thoughts on reframing sustainability from the point of view of engaged spirituality and rethinking of what it means to be human.

From 2013, Nat has been involved in researching, designing and setting up of a virtual institution to promote biodiversity-based ecological agriculture (or agroecology). The International People’s Agroecology Multiversity (IPAM) articulates a research-learning action orientation and is based on 5 interconnected platforms i.e. research, learning, action, knowledge, and community building. The aim of IPAM is to nurture and promote the principles and practices of non-violent or non-destructive agroecology and the universal concerns of small agricultural food producers — agricultural workers, fisherfolks and indigenous peoples.

Nat works closely with Signis World (World Catholic Communication Agency based in Brussels) and is at the moment working towards implementing the Laudato Si Global Fellowship Programme for Young Media Professionals at the Xavier Centre for New Humanities and Compassion Studies, where he is presently based. The Laudato Si Global Fellowship Programme is based on a partnership between Signis World, Brussels and Xavier University Bhubaneswar, India. The focus of the fellowship is to create a network of young media professionals who will promote the meanings and the message of Laudato Si for a more compassionate world.

Nat is a sociologist by training and obtained his Ph.D. from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India. For him, the present form of humanities and social sciences produce narrow disciplinary streams and knowledge silos. For over 2 years from 2014, he has been exploring transdisciplinary and transformative learning approaches in higher education in general and with Xavier University, Bhubaneswar, India in particular as he explored the notions of sustainability and spirituality.

He has now been the chair professor of the Xavier Centre for New Humanities and Compassion Studies at the Xavier University Bhubaneswar (Odisha, India). In the long term, the effort is directed at forming a new School of New Humanities and Social Sciences based to go beyond the usual disciplinary streams and knowledge silos. The effort is to build a school based on transdiciplinarity and transformative learning within the concerns of the new humanities.

Nat is presently based in Bhubaneswar, India. He can be contacted at and/or



  • Edited Book

Absences, Silences and the Margin:

A Mosaic of Voices on the Indian Diaspora

Edited by S. Samuel Asir Raj, Surajit C. Mukhopadhyay and M. Nadarajah

(Chennai, India)

  • Book Chapter

“Diaspora and Nostalgia: Towards a Cultural Theory of the Indian Diaspora”

Absences, Silences and the Margin:  A Mosaic of Voices on the Indian Diaspora

Edited by S. Samuel Asir Raj, Surajit C. Mukhopadhyay and M. Nadarajah

(Chennai, India)

  • Formal Public Session

“Going Beyond Hegemonic Stories and Silos:

Towards a Transdisciplinary School of New Humanities and Social Sciences” 

Bangkok Forum 2018

Integrating Knowledge for Social Sustainability

October 24th – 25th, 2018

  • Illustrated Book for Children

Caring for Our Common Home:

Our Living Home is God’s Gift to Us

Archdiocesan Office for Human Development

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

  • Article for Popular Media

UN ‘Sustainable’ Development Goals Hijacking Our Compassion For the World

UN ‘sustainable’ development goals hijacking our compassion for the world

2019 (Info as of March)

  • Illustrated Book for Teenagers

Caring for Our Common Home:

Activity Book on Laudato Si

Archdiocesan Office for Human Development

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

  • Popular Article

 Hate Speech Threatens Our Humanity
By M. Nadarajah and Jomo Kwame Sundaram

  • Forthcoming Books
Shaping Workers’ Hope:
The Social History of National Union of Bank Employees (NUBE), Malaysia
July 2019
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Protest, Prayer, Peace
Visual Disclosures of the Indianness of Malaysia
August 2019
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Searching for the Human in Human-ities
Discourses on Gandhi, Non-violence and Compassion
October 2019
XUB, Odisha, India


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