Re-imagining Pasts: Post-colonialism and Nationalism in South Asia (1945-2015)

Course Description: 

This course is an introduction to a conceptual history of South Asia (India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal) through a study of concepts and themes (e.g: imperialism, post-colonialism, nationalism, globalization, and transnationalism) that have dominated the historiographical methods of the understanding of this region. This course will be primarily looking at representations of nationhood, collective identities and the manifestations of post-colonialism through an analysis of some iconic texts of literature, cinema and popular culture. The aim of this course is to familiarize students with some of the fundamental debates in the history of ideas in modern South Asian history and to trace its multiple influences from colonialism, European philosophy, art and literature. Additionally, the course will also try to juxtapose some of the contemporary discourses on memory politics and national identity that are equally resonant in the public and political debates around re-visiting and re-imagining the pasts both in South Asia and Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). In sum, the course would be inter-disciplinary in scope but firmly rooted in an examination of South Asian history and its conceptual apparatus and analyzing them through art, literature and film.

Learning Outcomes: 

This course aims to provide an introduction to South Asian studies as an interdisciplinary paradigm for students from different disciplines. The course will enable you to apply your disciplinary perspectives (for example, Gender Studies, Nationalism, Cultural Heritage or Literature) on thematic and conceptual issues related to South Asia (1945-2015). Students will learn to analyze the major debates around the concepts of nation, identity, religion and caste in South Asia and thus acquire a deeper critique of these concepts. Finally, students will become familiar with some of the contemporary theoretical and critical frameworks in reading cultural texts from a cross-regional and interdisciplinary perspective and thus learn to read historical events through literature, art and cinema.

Students would be able to apply their respective disciplinary perspectives on concepts or case studies within the South Asian paradigm and thereby acquire the skills of using an inter-disciplinary framework.


The course will involve two set of weekly readings and discussion of these readings in class. All students     would be expected to have one set of readings for every week before class. The second set of reading swill be introduced and presented by the presenters for each week.

There are three components of assessment for this course:

Class participation: (20%) -This is part of the continuous assessment principle of this course. Your class participation grade will be based on your demonstration of the critical reading of weekly readings, participation in class discussions and activities and regular attendance.

Presentations: (20%) - All students need to make a presentation on one of the weekly readings. The duration of the presentation is 15 minutes followed by a discussion. The date and topic of the presentation should be discussed and agreed in the first week of the course. Presentations should briefly summarize the chosen reading and connect it to the mandatory reading and theme of the session; raise pertinent questions for discussion and the presentations will be evaluated based on the criteria of coherence of the summary and the arguments, demonstration of comprehension of the readings, analysis of arguments and the qualities of questions raised for the generation of a discussion.

Mid-term proposal for End-of-term paper: (20%)-By the end of Week 7-8, students have to submit a detailed outline (two pages: tentative title, research question, Sources, Structure of the paper, thesis statement) for the end of term paper (2,500 words). The details of the outline will provided in the first class.

Final paper (40%): A research paper (not more than 2,500 words) based on the outline discussed in Week 7-8. All papers should relate to at least two readings from the course and at least two other sources. The papers will be evaluated on their originality of their focus, argumentation, engaged use of sources, coherent structure and other relevant linguistic elements of a research paper.