Sufis, Slaves, and Soldiers: Premodern Mobility in South and Central Asia
This freshman seminar will take students on a journey across the historically interconnected regions of pre-modern Central Asia, Iran, and India to discover a world where people, goods, and ideas traveled, where spaces were shared and where fluid identities adapted to changing spatial contexts. An engaging mix of textual, visual, and material sources with methods of cartography will enable students to learn about diverse historical experiences that include the Sogdian-Turkic commercial symbiosis in Pre-Islamic Central Asia, gendered spaces in peripatetic Mughal courts, and forced relocations caused by slavery in the Turco-Persian world.
Inequality and Sustainability in India and USA: An Interdisciplinary Global Perspective
This course addresses inequality in the context of sustainability, focusing on India in comparison to the USA and global trajectories. Students will explore social inequality and inequality in access to basic services; exposure to environmental pollution and climate risks; participation in governance; and, overall outcomes of sustainability, health, and wellbeing. They will learn key theoretical frameworks underpinning inequality and equity, measurement approaches, and explore emerging strategies for designing equitable sustainability transitions, drawing upon engineering, spatial planning, public health, and policy perspectives.
Pre-Colonial India: Politics, Religion, and Culture in South Asia, 1000-1800 CE
What was social, cultural, economic, and political life in South Asia like before colonial modernity? This class will explore the medieval and early modern periods in the history of the Indian sub-continent, spanning the years 1000-1800 CE and traversing through such chapters as the establishment of the first Muslim polities in India, the growing integration of South Asia into global networks of circulation and exchange, and the birth and death of cultural practices in this dynamic environment. It will examine the changing relationship between India and the rest of the world, concluding with the British conquest of the region.
Islam in South Asia through Literature and Film
This course is a survey of Islam in the Indian subcontinent. We begin with the earliest Muslim descriptions of India and the rise of Persian poetry to understand how Muslims negotiated life at the frontiers of the Islamic world. Next, we trace patterns of patronage and production at the Mughal court and the development of Urdu as a vehicle of literary composition including a discussion of the Progressive Writer's Movement and the "Muslim Social" genre of Hindi cinema. The course concludes with an examination of contemporary novels from Bangladesh and Pakistan. Students will gain an informed perspective on Islam beyond the headlines.
Gender and Performing Arts in South Asia (SA)
Robert L. Phillips
How has the nexus of gender, society, and the performing arts been theorized, constructed, and experienced at different times and in different places in South Asian cultures? What have been the impacts of modernity on the performing arts in South Asia? In exploring these and related questions we will draw from music, dance, film, literature, and ethnographic and historical sources as we consider the complexities of social and cultural discourses in relation to gender and the performing arts.
The Making of Hinduism
Guy St. Amant
Hinduism is often regarded as one of the world's most ancient living religions, and its oldest scriptures were composed more than 3000 years ago. It may therefore come as a surprise that people did not start calling themselves Hindus until the 15th century. How should we understand the late appearance of this term as a self-referential category, and what does it tell us about religion in South Asia? In this course, we will trace Hinduism's roots from the earliest period up to the 15th century, examining not only continuity in religious thought and practice but also diversity in the traditions that came to form a single Hindu community.