Search | Directories | Reference Tools
UW Home > Discover UW > Student Guide > Course Catalog 

Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Purnima Dhavan
SISSA 303
Seattle Campus

Divided Lands/Divided Lives: An Environmental History of South Asia

Focuses on the mobilization of South Asian tribal, peasant, and ethnic communities around ecological issues to secure social equity in the colonial and post-colonial period. Examines how the complex interactions of states and peoples have changed the ways in which nature itself is conceptualized. Offered: jointly with HSTAS 303.

Class description

This class will focus on some of the major themes in South Asian environmental history through the Modern period. We will examine how both the British Colonial state and the modern nation states of South Asia sought to catalogue and control the immense natural wealth of South Asia as well as the diverse and complex human interactions with the land. Specifically, we will examine how South Asian tribal, peasant, and ethnic communities have used their relationship with the environment to forge political and social identities in order to mobilize for greater political, social, and economic equity in the colonial and post-colonial period. The changing perceptions of “nature,” “wildness,” and “civilization,” will be another category for inquiry in this class. How do societies construct these categories? What kinds of conceptual and power differentials do such formulations reveal?

Student learning goals

Understanding the long-term impact of human societies on the natural world

Understanding the interconnectedness of cultural concepts of nature and micro-climates in which they are produced

Basic research skills including using databases, periodical collections, special collections, and online research tools

Evaluating and contextualizing a variety of historical approaches in South Asian Environmental history

General method of instruction

short lectures followed by discussion of class readings

Recommended preparation

none, willingness to participate in discussion a must

Class assignments and grading

2 short papers, one larger paper, and class discussion

Map Exercise 5% Essay 1 (3-4p) 20% Essay 2 (3-4p) 20% Research Essay (8-10p) 30% Class participation 20% Student Led Discussion 5%


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 Purnima Dhavan
Date: 03/04/2008