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Course Information

Instructor Info:Uditi Sen
Office Extension x5598
Term: 2013S
Meeting Info: Tuesday Thursday
12:30 PM - 01:50 PM Franklin Patterson Hall (FPH) 107
12:30 PM - 01:50 PM Franklin Patterson Hall (FPH) 107

This course is designed as a broad exploration of social and political change in South Asia, with special focus on India and Pakistan. Instead of in-depth study, this course aims to provide a broad sweep of vital aspects of South Asian culture, economy and polity from a historical perspective. It is built around the insight that history is constantly evoked in modern South Asia as a political resource, to aid in formation of identities and for blatant political use. Instead of a narrative history, this course will focus on key concepts and historical figures that continue to have present significance. Some key concepts taken up for study will be caste difference, religious plurality and rival nationalisms. Special attention will be paid to how the region's experience of colonialism and the epistemic violence of colonial knowledge continues to shape its present.  This course is designed to give complete beginners a basic literacy in matters South Asian while enabling those who have already engaged with some aspect of South Asian studies to address gaps in their knowledge.


Assignments include reading, writing, class presentations and project-based work.  I expect readings to be done thoughtfully and critically before the class date for which each assignment is listed as discussion is largely based on the readings.  Students will be expected to participate in and occasionally run discussions. 

Readings and Textbooks:

All articles are available online through the course web site (under Readings and in the daily Syllabus).  You should make copies of the readings and bring them with you to class the day we are discussing them. 

The textbooks for this course will be primarily used to provide background information and preliminary introduction to concepts and debates. Students are expected to read them in conjunction will the more in-depth readings provided on the course website (moodle).

1. Sugata Bose and Ayesha Jalal, Modern South Asia: history, culture, political economy, (2nd Edition), Routledge, 2004. (Must buy)

2. Barbara D. Metcalf and Thomas R. Metcalf, A Concise History of Modern India (2nd or 3rd edition). 

3. Ramachandra Guha, India After Gandhi: The History of the World's Largest Democracy, (any edition).

Written Assignments:  All written assignments are due for online submission on Moodle, within the specific date and time listed. I do not accept late papers without prior permission.  Papers must be typed, double-spaced and proofread, with page numbers.  You should always spell-check and proofread your assignments before turning them in.


Course Objectives:

Goals of the course:

  • Develop critical thinking, reading and writing skills through a close exploration of the nature of colonial power and knowledge in South Asia and the interplay between history and present politics.
  • Develop analytical skills as students learn to appreciate the role of discursive formations in framing subject positions of historical and contemporary actors: in this case how orientalism and post-colonial nationalism have each in turn constructed South Asian social categories.
  • Develop a critical historical awareness through an exploration of how historical processes and events, such as the long shadow cast by imperialism and anti-colonial nationalisms, continue to frame contemporary debates about identity and politics.
  • Develop a preliminary understanding of the historical antecedents and cultural specificities of South Asia.
  • Strengthen research, reading, writing and presentation skills through a series of assignments and activities designed to challenge students to develop their own critical approaches and analyses.
  • Conceive and complete project-based work in the form of individual research projects.


Evaluation Criteria:

Evaluations:  To receive an evaluation for the course, you must complete all assignments on time and make satisfactory progress on the course learning goals.  I expect a lot of writing and class participation.  If you miss more than two class meetings without a good reason, you may not get a good evaluation.  (If you miss a significant number of class meetings, you will not get an evaluation.)  I do not give Incompletes unless negotiated before assignment due dates, including the final paper and portfolio.


Additional Info:

*Plagiarism:  Plagiarism is the presentation of another person’s ideas or words as if they were your own, without acknowledging the source.  Plagiarism is a serious offence, and can result in either No Evaluation for the course or even disciplinary withdrawal from the College.  As you write your papers, you must be sure to cite your sources thoroughly and correctly, whether you are quoting directly or paraphrasing.  Ignorance of plagiarism is not an excuse.  If you are ever uncertain as to whether doing something is technically plagiarism, you should ask.  You should also consult with writing reference manuals for correct citation and bibliographic formats, including for citing Internet sources.