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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Amita Baviskar
GEOG 436
Seattle Campus

Social and Political Geographies of South Asia

Introduces the social and political geographies of South Asia through reference to agrarian change in India. Outlines key concepts related to the reproduction of inequality in the region, particularly theories of caste, class, gender, and religious communalism, and examines the mechanisms through which these inequalities are reproduced in South Asia. Offered: jointly with JSIS A 438.

Class description

This course examines the changing social and political geographies of South Asia, tracing how colonial and postcolonial state policies have shaped contemporary practices of place-making structured around ideas of nation, caste and tribe, religion and religion, class and gender. It focuses on the mutual production of geographical boundaries and social identities in independent India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nepal, as well as at their transformation by mobile capital, populations and ideas. A key theme in the course is that of the political contestations engendered by social geographies, in particular the attempts by marginalized groups to assert their claims to public space, resources and respect.

Student learning goals

By the end of the course, students should have a rigorous and empirically grounded understanding of selected conceptual debates in the geography of South Asia.

General method of instruction

Recommended preparation

Class assignments and grading

1. Attendance, preparation and participation: 20% of grade This seminar relies on close reading of texts and active participation in class discussion. Each student is expected to attend the seminar ready to discuss all the assigned readings for that day. Evaluation will be based on the quality of seminar participation.

2. Commentaries on course readings: 30% of grade Each student will be responsible for leading at least two class discussions by preparing and circulating a short commentary on the week’s readings (15% for each commentary). The commentaries should clarify central concepts, critically evaluate them in relation to other readings in the course, and pose questions for discussion. They should be no longer than 600 words, and should be e-mailed to the rest of the class the previous Monday or Wednesday by 4 pm.

3. Book review: 30% of grade A 1000 to 1200-word review of Amitav Ghosh’s The Shadow Lines or Mohammed Hanif’s A Case of Exploding Mangoes, due on May 24, 2011. Students are expected to critically review each book in relation to themes and arguments discussed in the course, rather than evaluating them in terms of their literary quality.

4. Final examination: 20% of grade


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Amita Baviskar
Date: 03/29/2011