An interdepartmental program in South Asian Studies

Last updated: July 15, 2014 at 10:54 a.m.

Objectives

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.

Learning Goals

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 India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, and in certain contexts include a discussion of Afghanistan, Maldives, Myanmar, and Tibet. 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

How to Become a Minor

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.

Program Faculty

Ulka Anjaria, Chair and Undergraduate Advising Head
(English)

Jonathan Shapiro Anjaria
(Anthropology)

Sarita Bhalotra
(Heller School)

David Engerman
(History)

Talinn Grigor
(Fine Arts)

Sarah Lamb
(Anthropology)

Nidhiya Menon
(Economics)

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

Govind Sreenivasan
(History)

Requirements for the Minor

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

A. India and Pakistan: The Making of Modern 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.

Courses of Instruction

(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
[ 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 ]
Formerly offered as IGS 150a.
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.
Mr. Singh

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.
Mr. Nair

REL/SAS 162b Religions in South Asia: India, Pakistan and Beyond
[ hum nw ]
Examines religious traditions of South Asia, including Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, Islam and Sikhism, from the perspectives of scriptural texts, art, philosophy, history, anthropology and film. Explores the central ideas and practices of the region's religious traditions, as well as the role of religion in South Asian society, politics and culture. Usually offered every second year.
Staff

SAS 100a India and Pakistan: Understanding South Asia
[ 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.
Mr. Anjaria, Ms. Anjaria, or Ms. Singh

SAS 101a South Asian Women Writers
[ 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 year.
Ms. Singh

SAS 110b South Asian Postcolonial Writers
[ 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.
Ms. Singh

SAS 130a Film and Fiction of Crisis
[ hum nw ]
Examines novels and films as a response to some pivotal crisis in South Asia: Independence and Partition, Communal Riots, Insurgency and Terrorism. We will read and analyze texts from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka in an effort to examine how these moments of crisis have affected literary and cinematic form while also paying close attention to how they contest or support the narrative of the unified nation. Usually offered every third year.
Ms. 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.
Ms. Singh

SAS 150b Indian Film: The Three-Hour Dream
[ 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.
Ms. Singh

SAS 155b Cinema and Society: History, Film, and Visual Culture in Pakistan
[ nw ss ]
Explores the rise, fall and reprise of the Pakistani film industry against a backdrop of the country's tumultuous past and present. Films, throughout, will be studied alongside history as complex works of art; as mirrors and construction-sites of national identity; as discourses generating and disciplining sexualities and genders; as expressions of desire and disavowal; anxiety and transgression. The course will increase students' knowledge of Pakistan and its film history; of cinema as a cultural form and mode of critical and artistic expression; and of cinema culture and cinephilia as part of Parkistan's visual and media landscape. Special one-time offering, spring 2014.
Mr. Ahmad

SAS 164b Pakistan: History, State and Society
[ nw ss ]
Introduces the unsettled history and contemporary predicament of Pakistan. Theses examined include: Muslim nationalism in South Asia, contending perspectives on the country's origins, the complex relationship between U.S. imperialism and the post-colonial state, controversies associated with the so-called War on Terror, the escalation of sectarian attacks against minorities, and progressive public discourse and activism. The course asks: Is Pakistan a democracy in substantive terms? Will it survive, and what are the implications of this survival for its people and those living in neighboring countries? It concludes with a discussion of why the study of Pakistan has particular importance for America, which has historically invested heavily in fighting Communism and now Terrorism in South Asia and beyond. Through the study of primary and secondary texts, news media, school textbooks, and video clips, we pay special attention to history as it has unfolded against official discourse and in everyday lives. Special one-time offering, spring 2014.
Mr. Ahmad

Core Course in SAS

SAS 100a India and Pakistan: Understanding South Asia
[ 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.
Mr. Anjaria, Ms. Anjaria, or Ms. Singh

Core Electives in SAS

ANTH 134a South Asian Culture and Society
[ 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 ]
Formerly offered as IGS 150a.
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.
Mr. Singh

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.
Mr. Nair

REL/SAS 162b Religions in South Asia: India, Pakistan and Beyond
[ hum nw ]
Examines religious traditions of South Asia, including Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, Islam and Sikhism, from the perspectives of scriptural texts, art, philosophy, history, anthropology and film. Explores the central ideas and practices of the region's religious traditions, as well as the role of religion in South Asian society, politics and culture. Usually offered every second year.
Staff

SAS 101a South Asian Women Writers
[ 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 year.
Ms. Singh

SAS 110b South Asian Postcolonial Writers
[ 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.
Ms. Singh

SAS 130a Film and Fiction of Crisis
[ hum nw ]
Examines novels and films as a response to some pivotal crisis in South Asia: Independence and Partition, Communal Riots, Insurgency and Terrorism. We will read and analyze texts from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka in an effort to examine how these moments of crisis have affected literary and cinematic form while also paying close attention to how they contest or support the narrative of the unified nation. Usually offered every third year.
Ms. 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.
Ms. Singh

SAS 150b Indian Film: The Three-Hour Dream
[ 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.
Ms. Singh

SAS 155b Cinema and Society: History, Film, and Visual Culture in Pakistan
[ nw ss ]
Explores the rise, fall and reprise of the Pakistani film industry against a backdrop of the country's tumultuous past and present. Films, throughout, will be studied alongside history as complex works of art; as mirrors and construction-sites of national identity; as discourses generating and disciplining sexualities and genders; as expressions of desire and disavowal; anxiety and transgression. The course will increase students' knowledge of Pakistan and its film history; of cinema as a cultural form and mode of critical and artistic expression; and of cinema culture and cinephilia as part of Parkistan's visual and media landscape. Special one-time offering, spring 2014.
Mr. Ahmad

SAS 164b Pakistan: History, State and Society
[ nw ss ]
Introduces the unsettled history and contemporary predicament of Pakistan. Theses examined include: Muslim nationalism in South Asia, contending perspectives on the country's origins, the complex relationship between U.S. imperialism and the post-colonial state, controversies associated with the so-called War on Terror, the escalation of sectarian attacks against minorities, and progressive public discourse and activism. The course asks: Is Pakistan a democracy in substantive terms? Will it survive, and what are the implications of this survival for its people and those living in neighboring countries? It concludes with a discussion of why the study of Pakistan has particular importance for America, which has historically invested heavily in fighting Communism and now Terrorism in South Asia and beyond. Through the study of primary and secondary texts, news media, school textbooks, and video clips, we pay special attention to history as it has unfolded against official discourse and in everyday lives. Special one-time offering, spring 2014.
Mr. Ahmad

Core Elective Courses from Other Departments/Programs

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.
Ms. 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.
Ms. Anjaria

HIST 66a History of South Asia (2500 BCE - 1971)
[ 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.
Mr. Sreenivasan

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

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.

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 ]
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. This course offers a 2-credit optional Experiential Learning practicum (EL 94a) Sages and Seekers, Aging and the Real World. Usually offered every second year.
Ms. Lamb

ANTH 129b Global, Transnational, and Diasporic Communities
[ ss ]
Examines the social and cultural dimensions of globalization from an anthropological perspective. It starts by critically engaging with more fundamental concepts such as state, identity, and movement. It then proceeds to debate the various contributions that anthropologists have presented to the understanding of human life in global, transnational, and diasporic contexts. Topics to be discussed include place, migration, religion, global sexual cultures, kinship, and technology—all within a global perspective. Usually offered every second year.
Mr. Anjaria, Ms. Ferry or Ms. Lamb

ECON 176a The Household, Health, and Hunger in Developing Countries
[ nw ss ]
Prerequisites: ECON 80a and ECON 184b, or permission of the instructor. ECON 175a is recommended. Primarily recommended for juniors and seniors.
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.
Ms. Menon

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 ]
May not be taken for credit by students who took FA 39b in prior years.
Introduces architecture and arts of the Islamic lands from seventh-century Levant to post-modernism in Iran, India, and the Gulf states. Provides an overview of major themes and regional variations, and their socio-political and historical context. Usually offered every third year.
Ms. Grigor

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 year.
Ms. Wong

FA 171b Buddhist Art
[ ca nw ]
May not be taken for credit by students who took FA 13b in prior years.
The history of Buddhist art on the Silk Road. Usually offered every second year.
Ms. 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.
Mr. 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.
Ms. Bowser

HSSP 102a Global Perspectives on 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.
Ms. Bhalotra

THA 146a Performing Asia: Theatre and Drama across a Continent
[ ca nw ]
Explores the multiple facets of Asian theater as an historical and literary presence as well as the practical creative process. We will examine a number of theatrical styles from various regions throughout Asia as well as the Middle East. The course is designed specifically as an introduction to the various aspects of Asian theater, including the basis of performance such as playwriting, acting, direction and design. Usually offered every third year.
Staff