This course surveys ideas regarding gender and sexuality at various points in the cultural history of South Asia and how these ideas have shaped women's and men's lives and experiences in the society. We examine how different communities pushed against gender norms and cultural expectations using different ideologies and strategies resulting in a diverse range of feminist projects in South Asia. The course explores ideas about gender, sexuality, and feminism in various domains of South Asian life. Apart from reading scholarship on relevant topics, we analyze primary textual sources, such as religious texts, literary genres, and folklore.
This course examines literature and film by South Asians in North America. Students will gain perspective on the experiences of immigration and diaspora through the themes of identity, memory, solidarity, and resistance. From early Sikh migration to the American West Coast, to Muslim identity in a post 9/11 world, how can South Asian American stories be read as symbolic of the American experience of gender, class, religion, and ethnicity more broadly? Students will hone their skills in reading primary materials, analyzing them within context, writing persuasively, and speaking clearly.
We live in uncertain times, marked by ever-escalating crises. It's no surprise that the moment has seen a revival of utopian thought: a casting about for radical solutions, a quest for dramatic reinvention. Historically, utopia has largely been seen as a Western construct. But what models -and by extension potential solutions- does the non-Western world offer? This course examines utopia from a South Asian perspective. Considering a range of examples (the nation state, Maoist revolution, environmental movements, intentional communities), it asks how change occurs, and what cautionary lessons history offers those seeking a more perfect world.
The Mughal Empire was one of the great empires of the early modern world known for its wealth and courtly splendor. At the height of their power, the Mughals controlled most of the Indian subcontinent. This class will explore Mughal sovereignty, political control, economic reform, spatial organization, and aesthetics. It will also re-examine the enduring narrative of Mughal imperial decline that frames conventional understandings of the rise of British colonialism in the Indian subcontinent in the late 18th century. The lectures and readings for the course will draw on travel narratives, films, chronicles, and courtly literature.
India's post-independence journey is a lens to study fundamental questions of economic development and political economy. Despite attempts at big-push industrialization, followed by economic liberalization in the 1990's, the country struggled to create jobs and provide public goods at par with rapid population growth. Extreme economic inequality is now only one concern amidst environmental degradation, gender-based violence, and a Hindu-nationalist political agenda. When, and how, will India achieve sustainable development? The seminar will draw on scholarly works and Indian cinema for a well-rounded economic, social and political commentary.
The Anthropocene names both the advent of human mastery over nature and the serial catastrophes that now challenge our "risk society", from climate change and global plagues to nuclear fallout, flooding, the sixth extinction, and environmental racism. Literary testimonies can help us rethink the human relationship to the environment by shedding a unique light on how distinct cultures live this rapport. By studying novels, films, plays, and essays from France, Russia, Nigeria, India, Japan, and the US, we will see how some of the world's most exposed populations have navigated the lethal cross-currents of modernity.
This course will examine where and why women and men are not treated equally, how gender inequality impacts human welfare and development, and what works to minimize gender inequality in the Global South. This course will introduce students to cutting-edge research on gender inequality in countries as diverse as India, China, South Korea, Brazil, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, and Mali, as well as the reasons why some government efforts to reduce gender inequality are successful while others fail or even backfire. The course will emphasize the importance of culture and norms.
Modern technology has pushed the boundaries of environmental and ecological limits to accommodate growing societal needs. Yet, it can also be a double-edged sword, posing new environmental challenges. In this Freshman Seminar students will explore how technologies have helped address challenges in water, energy, and food production, examine opposing views on environmental sustainability solutions, and discover new concerns from emerging contaminants. We will also explore how to communicate quantitative information by utilizing tools in data visualization effectively.
This course examines the world of political regimes and regime transitions. Why are some countries democracies and others dictatorships? Why does democracy sometimes break down? Why so some dictatorships eventually democratize? We will explore these questions through a diverse range of cases. We will learn about cases from Latin America and beyond, including the world's biggest democracy (India) and the world's biggest authoritarian regime (China).
This course will focus on the state's role in promoting economic growth and distribution in the developing world. The core organizing question for the course is: why have some regions of the developing world been more successful at industrialization and/or poverty alleviation than other regions. The students will learn about the patterns of development in Asia, Africa and Latin America, with special attention to such countries as China, India, South Korea, Nigeria and Brazil. General challenges that face all developing countries - globalization, establishing democracy and ethnic fragmentation - will also be analyzed.