Mills College Musicology Professor Detained and Deported

The usually staid American Musicological Society is suddenly in the midst of an immigration and profiling case:

In August 2006, British citizen Dr. Nalini Ghuman was detained for 8 hours at San Francisco airport after returning from a month-long research visit to the UK. Professor Ghuman had previously held F1 student visas since September 1996 while earning a PhD from the University of California at Berkeley. She has been employed as an Assistant Professor of Music at Mills College since 2003, and was in possession of an H1B visa, issued in London, valid until 31 May 2008.

Instead of being allowed to return to her home in Oakland to start her fourth year at Mills, Dr. Ghuman had her visa revoked and was denied re-entry to the country where she has lived, studied, and worked for 10 years. A distinguished music graduate of Oxford University and of Kings College, London, Dr. Ghuman is completing her book focused on the influence of India on English music in the early twentieth century.

Mills College has an excellent program in new music, avant-guarde, electro-acoustic and otherwise. But I gather Dr. Ghuman's focus was much more traditional – she was a “classicial musicologist.”

The most plausible theory about this case is that we have yet another case of mistaken identity with someone on a security watch list. It's probably not a case of running afoul of some guard's taste in music, though we at CatSynth recommend that you say country music and hip-hop if they ask.

The site includes a sample letter that people can send to their representatives, and to Mills (which has been quite supportive of Dr. Ghuman and probably a bit bewildered by the whole case).