Interdisciplinary introduction to the field of South Asian Studies. Overview of the topographic, social, and linguistic geography and history of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Nepal. Examines politics, economy, social structure, religion, cultural production and the arts, popular culture, and transnationalism.
This course focuses on questions of gender and the public sphere in South Asia, with a particular emphasis on colonial India. While recognizing that every aspect of reality is gendered, this course adopts an interdisciplinary approach, challenging the ideological presuppositions of the so-called gender neutral methodologies, as well as the boundaries of disciplines imposed by such methodologies.
The course examines a wide range of questions and debates on social reforms, women’s education, their participation in national movements, their role in the economy, the development of women’s organisations and movement, and the problematic of dichotomies presupposed between the private and the public, specifically in terms of gender relations. It traces literary and social traditions, elite voices and popular culture, the rhetoric and the ground realities, which together, through complex historical processes, marked women both in the private and the public sphere. While reviewing the larger patriarchies prevalent in South Asia, it also analyses the complex relationship of women, both as victims and agents, as objects and subjects, to issues like nationalism and fundamentalism.
Student learning goals
General method of instruction
Though no prior knowledge of South Asia is required, the students should have a broad interest in South Asia and also a willingness to do a wide range of reading. Students will be expected to develop and demonstrate their skills in mid-term exam and written essays. Teaching will be done through lectures, followed by a class discussion on assigned readings per week.
Read the following: Geraldine Forbes, Women in Modern India (Cambridge, 1996). Patricia Jeffery and Amrita Basu (eds), Appropriating Gender: Women’s Activism and Politicized Religion in South Asia (New York, 1998). Kumkum Sangari and Sudesh Vaid (eds), Recasting Women: Essays in Colonial History (New Delhi, 1989). Radha Kumar, The History of Doing (New Delhi, 1993).
Class assignments and grading
Grading will be done on the following basis: Class Presentations: 10 points First Essay: 20 points Mid-term Exam: 30 points Final Essay: 40 points