An interdepartmental program in South Asian Studies

Last updated: April 12, 2019 at 11:54 a.m.

The South Asian Studies program provides a minor (open to students in any major) for those who wish to structure their studies of South Asia or the South Asian Diaspora. The minor offers an interdisciplinary approach to understanding the literatures, histories, societies, cultures, religions, arts, and contemporary importance of South Asia and of diasporic South Asian communities. South Asia is a very significant region, which now encompasses the political nations of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Bhutan. Students completing the minor will come away with a strong understanding of the intellectual, cultural, political, economic, and social developments at key periods in South Asia’s history and in the contemporary era.

The learning goals for students completing the South Asian Studies minor are threefold: knowledge about the region of South Asia; core skills that can be used in graduate study or in a variety of professions; and critical awareness and engagement as the basis for social justice and global citizenship.

Knowledge

The South Asian Studies minor provides students with broad yet intimate knowledge of South Asia. South Asian Studies focus on the study of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, and in certain contexts include a discussion of Afghanistan, Maldives, Myanmar, and Tibet. Students completing the minor:

  1. Will come away with a strong understanding of the intellectual, cultural, political, economic, and social developments at key periods in South Asia’s history and in the contemporary era.
  2. Will be exposed to a range of disciplinary approaches to the study of South Asia, including those of Anthropology, Comparative Literature, Economics, English, Fine Arts, Religious Studies, Social Policy and South Asian Literatures.
  3. Will acquire in-depth knowledge of a particular world region, complementing broader comparative majors such as International and Global Studies, Anthropology, Comparative Literature, History and Politics.

Core Skills

In addition, South Asian Studies students acquire core skills that can be used in graduate study or in a variety of professions. Critical thinking, writing and conducting scholarly research are emphasized in almost every class. Through exposure to South Asia, students sharpen their critical skills regarding the production of knowledge and sensibilities in traditions beyond the West and global North.

Critical Awareness and Engagement (Social Justice)

The conditions of our time call out for a new generation of leaders proficient in diverse cultures. By studying in depth a world region beyond the United States, graduates gain knowledge and perspectives needed to participate as informed citizens in a global society. As South Asian Studies minors, students will be focusing on one of the most dynamic and important areas of study for global citizens of the 21st century.

Upon Graduating

Students completing the minor may find their knowledge of the region useful for professional careers in business, international law, international relations, government, journalism, education, international public health and NGOs. In addition, students who wish to continue in the study of South Asia beyond Brandeis may pursue graduate study in fields such as anthropology, history, literature, politics, and economics by selecting a program that permits a specialization in South Asia.

To enroll in the program, students must see the undergraduate advising head. Together they will select as an advisor a faculty member who seems best suited to that student's interests. Students in the minor work closely with the advisor to develop an individual plan of study. In addition to selecting courses at Brandeis, students may take advantage of the resources of neighboring institutions through the Boston Area Consortium. Courses may be taken at Boston College, Boston University, Tufts University, and Wellesley College. Study abroad in South Asia for a semester is also encouraged.

Jonathan Shapiro Anjaria, Chair and Undergraduate Advising Head
(Anthropology)

Ulka Anjaria
(English)

Sarah Lamb
(Anthropology)

Nidhiya Menon
(Economics)

Hannah Weiss Muller
(History)

Rajesh Sampath
(Heller School)

Laurence Simon
(Heller School)

Harleen Singh
(German, Russian and Asian Languages and Literature and Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies)

Govind Sreenivasan
(History)

Gowri Vijayakumar
(Sociology)

The minor in South Asian Studies requires a minimum of five semester courses, distributed as follows:

A. India and Pakistan: Understanding South Asia (SAS 100a), the South Asian Studies core course.

B. Four additional courses from the approved South Asian studies curriculum, taken from at least two different departments.

C. A minimum of three of the five courses required for the minor must be taken from Brandeis faculty. Courses taken at other institutions for credit must be approved by the student’s advisor and program chair.

D. No course with a final grade below C- can count toward the SAS minor and no course taken pass/fail may count toward the minor requirements..

E. No more than two courses taken for the SAS minor can double-count toward any other single major or minor.

Students are also encouraged to spend one or two semesters abroad at an approved academic program in South Asia during their junior year. Appropriate courses taken abroad may count toward the minor. More information can be obtained in the Office of Study Abroad in Usdan 127.

(1-99) Primarily for Undergraduate Students

SAS 92a Internship
Combines off-campus experience in a South Asia-related internship with written analysis under the supervision of a faculty sponsor. Students arrange their own internships. Counts only once toward fulfillment of requirements for the minor.
Staff

SAS 98a Independent Study
Usually offered every year.
Staff

(100-199) For Both Undergraduate and Graduate Students

ANTH 134a South Asian Culture and Society
[ dl nw ss ]
May be repeated for credit if taught by different instructors.
Examines the diversity and richness of the cultures and societies of South Asia, with a focus on India. Concentrates on the lived experiences of class, caste, gender, religion, politics, and region in people's everyday lives. Usually offered every third year.
Mr. Anjaria or Ms. Lamb

IGS/SAS 160a The Rise of India
[ nw ss ]
Examines how India rose to become a world power. With one-seventh of the world's population and a booming economy, India now shapes all global debates on trade, counter-terrorism and the environment. How will it use its new influence? Usually offered every second year.
Staff

REL/SAS 152a Introduction to Hinduism
[ hum nw ]
Introduces Hindu practice and thought. Explores broadly the variety of forms, practices, and philosophies that have been developing from the time of the Vedas (ca. 1500 BCE) up to present day popular Hinduism practiced in both urban and rural India. Examines the relations between Hindu religion and its wider cultural, social, and political contexts, relations between the Hindu majority of India and minority traditions, and questions of Hindu identity both in India and abroad. Usually offered every second year.
Staff

SAS 100a India and Pakistan: Understanding South Asia
[ djw nw ss ]
An exploration of the history, societies, cultures, religions, and literature of South Asia--India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. Uses perspectives from history, anthropology, literature, and film to examine past and contemporary life in South Asia. Usually offered every year.
Jonathan Anjaria, Ulka Anjaria, or Harleen Singh

SAS 101a Women Writers from South Asia
[ hum nw ]
Includes literature by South Asian women writers such as Amrita Pritam, Ismat Chugtai, Jhumpa Lahiri, Kamila Shamsie, Tahmina Anam, and Chandini Lokuge. Some of the works were originally written in English, while others have been translated from the vernacular. Usually offered every second year.
Harleen Singh

SAS 110b New Nations, New Stories: Postcolonial Literature
[ hum nw ]
Examines the postcolonial novel written in English within the shared history of colonialism, specifically British imperialism, for South Asia. Writers include R.K. Narayan, Salman Rushdie, Anita Desai, Arundhati Roy, Mohsin Hamid, Romesh Gunesekera and Daniyal Mueenudin. Usually offered every second year.
Harleen Singh

SAS 140a We Who Are at Home Everywhere: Narratives from the South Asian Diaspora
[ hum ]
Looks at narratives from various locations of the South Asian Diaspora, while paying close attention to the emergence of an immigrant South Asian public culture. Examines novels, poetry, short stories, film, and music in order to further an understanding of South Asian immigrant culture. Usually offered every third year.
Harleen Singh

SAS 150b Love, Sex, and Country: Films from India
[ djw hum nw ]
A study of Hindi films made in India since 1947 with a few notable exceptions from regional film, as well as some recent films made in English. Students will read Hindi films as texts/narratives of the nation to probe the occurrence of cultural, religious, historical, political, and social themes. Usually offered every third year.
Harleen Singh

Core Course in SAS

SAS 100a India and Pakistan: Understanding South Asia
[ djw nw ss ]
An exploration of the history, societies, cultures, religions, and literature of South Asia--India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. Uses perspectives from history, anthropology, literature, and film to examine past and contemporary life in South Asia. Usually offered every year.
Jonathan Anjaria, Ulka Anjaria, or Harleen Singh

Core Electives in SAS

ANTH 134a South Asian Culture and Society
[ dl nw ss ]
May be repeated for credit if taught by different instructors.
Examines the diversity and richness of the cultures and societies of South Asia, with a focus on India. Concentrates on the lived experiences of class, caste, gender, religion, politics, and region in people's everyday lives. Usually offered every third year.
Mr. Anjaria or Ms. Lamb

ENG 20a Bollywood: Popular Film, Genre, and Society
[ hum nw ]
An introduction to popular Hindi cinema through a survey of the most important Bollywood films from the 1950s until today. Topics include melodrama, song and dance, love and sex, stardom, nationalism, religion, diasporic migration, and globalization. Usually offered every third year.
Ulka Anjaria

ENG 22a Filmi Fictions: From Page to Screen in India
[ hum nw ]
An introduction to filmic adaptations of Indian novels from Bollywood, Indian art cinema, and Hollywood. Readings include novels as well as theoretical approaches to adaptation. Films include Slumdog Millionaire, Pather Panchali, Devdas, Guide, Umrao Jaan, and others. Usually offered every third year.
Ulka Anjaria

ENG 127a The Novel in India
[ hum nw ]
Survey of the novel and short story of the Indian subcontinent, their formal experiments in context of nationalism and postcolonial history. Authors may include Tagore, Anand, Manto, Desani, Narayan, Desai, Devi, Rushdie, Roy, Mistry, and Chaudhuri. Usually offered every second year.
Ulka Anjaria

ENG 152a Indian Love Stories
[ hum nw ]
Introduces students to writings on love, desire and sexuality from ancient India to the present. Topics include ancient eroticism, love in Urdu poetry, Gandhi's sexual asceticism, colonial regulation of sexuality, Bollywood, queer fiction and more. Usually offered every third year.
Ulka Anjaria

HIST 66a History of South Asia (2500 BCE - 1971)
[ djw nw ss ]
Introduces South Asian history from the earliest civilizations to the independence of India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Surveys the formation of religious traditions, the establishment of kingdoms and empires, colonialism and its consequences, and post-independence political and economic development. Usually offered every second year.
Govind Sreenivasan

HIST 178b Britain and India: Connected Histories
[ djw oc ss wi ]
Surveys the history of Britain and India from the rise of the East India Company to the present. Explores cultural and economic exchanges; shifts in power and phases of imperial rule; resistance and collaboration; nationalism; decolonization and partition; and postcolonial legacies. Usually offered every second year.
Hannah Muller

HIST 179b India and the Superpowers (USA, USSR, and China): 1947 and Beyond
[ nw ss ]
Examines the history of modern India through its relationships with the "superpowers," USA, USSR, and China. Covering the period between 1947-2018, the course analyses ideological, economic, foreign policy shifts and subcontinental conflict in a constantly changing geo-political scene. Usually offered every second year.
Staff

HIST 187b Unequal Histories: Caste, Religion, and Dissent in India
[ djw nw ss ]
Examines the religious, political, and social dimensions of discrimination in India. In order to study caste, power, and representation, we will look at religious texts, historical debates, film, and literature from the Vedic Age to contemporary India. Usually offered every second year.
Avinash Singh

HIST/SOC 170b Gender and Sexuality in South Asia
[ djw ss ]
Prerequisite: Sophomore standing or permission of the instructor.
Explores historical and contemporary debates about gender and sexuality in South Asia; revisits concepts of "woman," "sex," "femininity," "home," "family," "community," "nation," "reform," "protection," and "civilization" across the colonial and postcolonial periods. Usually offered every second year.
Hannah Muller and Gowri Vijayakumar

IGS 165a Revolution, Religion, and Terror: Postcolonial Histories
[ nw ss ]
Examines religious conflict, revolutionary violence, and civil war in modern South Asia. It looks at Jihad, Maoist militancy, rising fundamentalism, and the recent refugee crisis. Usually offered every second year.
Avinash Singh

IGS/SAS 160a The Rise of India
[ nw ss ]
Examines how India rose to become a world power. With one-seventh of the world's population and a booming economy, India now shapes all global debates on trade, counter-terrorism and the environment. How will it use its new influence? Usually offered every second year.
Staff

REL/SAS 152a Introduction to Hinduism
[ hum nw ]
Introduces Hindu practice and thought. Explores broadly the variety of forms, practices, and philosophies that have been developing from the time of the Vedas (ca. 1500 BCE) up to present day popular Hinduism practiced in both urban and rural India. Examines the relations between Hindu religion and its wider cultural, social, and political contexts, relations between the Hindu majority of India and minority traditions, and questions of Hindu identity both in India and abroad. Usually offered every second year.
Staff

SAS 101a Women Writers from South Asia
[ hum nw ]
Includes literature by South Asian women writers such as Amrita Pritam, Ismat Chugtai, Jhumpa Lahiri, Kamila Shamsie, Tahmina Anam, and Chandini Lokuge. Some of the works were originally written in English, while others have been translated from the vernacular. Usually offered every second year.
Harleen Singh

SAS 110b New Nations, New Stories: Postcolonial Literature
[ hum nw ]
Examines the postcolonial novel written in English within the shared history of colonialism, specifically British imperialism, for South Asia. Writers include R.K. Narayan, Salman Rushdie, Anita Desai, Arundhati Roy, Mohsin Hamid, Romesh Gunesekera and Daniyal Mueenudin. Usually offered every second year.
Harleen Singh

SAS 140a We Who Are at Home Everywhere: Narratives from the South Asian Diaspora
[ hum ]
Looks at narratives from various locations of the South Asian Diaspora, while paying close attention to the emergence of an immigrant South Asian public culture. Examines novels, poetry, short stories, film, and music in order to further an understanding of South Asian immigrant culture. Usually offered every third year.
Harleen Singh

SAS 150b Love, Sex, and Country: Films from India
[ djw hum nw ]
A study of Hindi films made in India since 1947 with a few notable exceptions from regional film, as well as some recent films made in English. Students will read Hindi films as texts/narratives of the nation to probe the occurrence of cultural, religious, historical, political, and social themes. Usually offered every third year.
Harleen Singh

WMGS 135b Postcolonial Feminisms
[ hum ]
Examines feminist theories, literature, and film from formerly colonized, Anglophone countries in South Asia, the Caribbean, and Africa. It takes the shared path of decolonization and postcoloniality to discuss the development of feminist discourse and the diverse trajectories of gendered lives. Usually offered every third year.
Harleen Singh

WMGS 161b Transnational Feminisms: Perspectives from South Asia and Beyond
[ nw ss ]
Examines contemporary debates around sexuality, nationalism, racism, casteism, morality, and intersectionality, exploring what it means to collaborate across borders as feminists and why global sisterhood is feasible. Includes rich materials from India and wider South Asia, while also navigating multiple geographical locations – the national, international, and digital spaces via which feminist politics and ideas travel and multiple hegemonies are played out. Special one-time offering, spring 2018.
Shilpa Phadke

Additional SAS Elective Courses (requiring a paper and prior approval from the SAS UAH)

The following courses include South Asia as one of the several areas studied. These courses would count toward the minor only if students discuss course content with the instructor and obtain prior permission from the program chair. Normally students wishing to take such a course for the minor will write a paper on South Asia or the South Asian Diaspora.

AAPI 140b Introduction to Asian American Studies
[ ss ]
Explores the Asian American experience and its broader connections to class, race, ethnicity, gender and sexuality. The course will examine topics of imperialism, labor migration, racial and communal formations, identity, culture, and politics of Asian America. Usually offered every year.
Leanne Day

AMST 140b The Asian American Experience
[ oc ss ]
Examines the political, economic, social, and contemporary issues related to Asians in the United States from the mid-nineteenth century to the present. Topics include patterns of immigration and settlement, and individual, family, and community formation explored through history, literature, personal essays, films, and other popular media sources. Usually offered every second year.
Staff

ANTH 111a Aging in Cross-Cultural Perspective
[ nw ss wi ]
This course offers a 2-credit optional Experiential Learning practicum.
Examines the meanings and social arrangements given to aging in a diversity of societies, including the U.S., India, Japan and China. Key themes include: the diverse ways people envision and organize the life course, scholarly and popular models of successful aging, the medicalization of aging in the U.S., cultural perspectives on dementia, and the ways national aging policies and laws are profoundly influenced by particular cultural models. Usually offered every second year.
Sarah Lamb

ANTH 158a Urban Worlds
[ dl ss ]
Explores some of the essential concepts of urban theory and conducts an in-depth study of urban experiences around the world. Topics include the city and marginality, urban modernity, gender and public space, gentrification, suburbanization, transgression, and urban nature. Case studies may be from cities such as Mumbai, Lagos, New York, Paris, Dubai, and Rio de Janeiro. Usually offered every second year.
Jonathan Anjaria

COML 122b Writing Home and Abroad: Literature by Women of Color
[ hum nw ]
Examines literature (prose, poetry, and memoirs) written by women of color across a wide spectrum of geographical and cultural sites. Literature written within the confines of the "home country" in the vernacular, as well as in English in immigrant locales, is read. The intersections of race, ethnicity, sexuality, gender, and class as contained by the larger institutions of government, religion, nationalism, and sectarian politics are examined. Usually offered every third year.
Harleen Singh

ECON 176a Health, Hunger, and the Household in Developing Countries
[ nw ss ]
Prerequisites: ECON 80a and ECON 184b or permission of the instructor.
Examines aspects of poverty and nutrition that are confronted by households in low-income countries. Examines these issues primarily from a microeconomic perspective, although some macroeconomic angles are explored as well. Usually offered every second year.
Nidhiya Menon

ENG 72a The Caribbean's Asias: Asian Migration & Heritage in the Caribbean
[ dl hum nw ]
Studies fiction and theory by and about Caribbean people of South Asian origin, and Caribbean people of Chinese origin from the late nineteenth century to the present. Examines how they have been implicated in discussions of nationalism, hybridity, diaspora, and neoliberalism. Usually offered every third year.
Faith Smith

ENG 77b Literatures of Global English
[ hum nw ]
Survey of world Anglophone literatures with attention to writers' literary responses to aspects of English as a global language with a colonial history. Focus on Indian subcontinent, Africa, the Caribbean, North America. Writers may include Rushdie, Coetzee, Kincaid, Atwood, Anzaldua. Usually offered every third year.
Staff

FA 33b Islamic Art and Architecture
[ ca nw ]
Through case studies of cities, sites, and monuments, the course presents an overview of the art and the architecture of the Islamic world beginning from the seventh century up to the present. Some of the themes include, but are not limited to, Islamic material culture, orientalist imaginations, systems of governance and the colonial present, search for the local identity, urban modernity and nationalism, and globalization. Usually offered every second year.
Muna Guvenc

FA 34a History of Asian Art
[ ca nw ]
May not be taken for credit by students who took FA 12a in prior years.
A selective survey of the art of the three major Asian areas: India, China, and Japan. Usually offered every second year.
Aida Wong

HIST 180a The Global Opium Trade: 1755-Present
[ nw ss ]
Investigates the history of the opium trade from early times to present. Coverage will include the Anglo-Indian opium trade, the Opium Wars; the political economy of the legal trade; and the complex ramifications of its prohibition. Usually offered every third year.
Heyward James

HS 236a International Health Systems and Development
Provides students with the framework to understand how health systems are organized and to understand what affects their performance. Students also will be able to describe key features of health systems; how health system performance is measured; and how lessons from other countries can be applied to their own countries. The course examines different health system frameworks, how to use these frameworks to ask health system questions, different aspects of health systems, how national health systems differ, and what measures are being implemented in different countries to improve their health system performance and eventually health outcomes. The course will also take a broader look at the relationships between health policy, economic policy and development policy, examining some of the main economic and development theories shaping global policies and also examine the international institutions and political dynamics in health policy making. Usually offered every year.
Diana Bowser

HSSP 102a Introduction to Global Health
[ ss ]
A primer on major issues in health care in developing nations. Topics include the natural history of disease and levels of prevention; epidemiological transitions; health disparities; and determinants of health including culture, social context, and behavior. Also covers: infectious and chronic disease incidence and prevalence; the role of nutrition, education, reproductive trends, and poverty; demographic transition including aging and urbanization; the structure and financing of health systems; and the globalization of health. Usually offered every year.
Staff

REL 151a The Buddha: His Life and Teachings
[ hum nw ]
Few human beings have had as much impact on the world as Siddhartha Gotama Shakyamuni, known to us as Buddha. This course explores his life and teachings as reflected in early Buddhist literature and Western scholarship. Usually offered every year.
Staff