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South Asia Concentration

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Fall Courses 2015

100-Level Courses

SAX 140 Introduction to South Asia Studies
Ambreen Hai
M 7:30-9 pm, meets first half of semester only

The subcontinent of South Asia includes the modern nations India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan and the Maldives.  This course introduces students to the study of South Asia: the history of the region; its cultures and cultural productions; the economic, political and religious forces that shape South Asia; the intersections, cross-affiliations, and linkages among its different nations; and the cross-connections among South Asia, its diaspora, and the contemporary world. It is the gateway course to the South Asia concentration and is required for all concentrators. It is co-taught by all of the Smith faculty associated with the South Asia concentration. Graded S/U only. (E) 1 credit

FYS 153 The Bollywood Matinee: Gender, Nation, and Globalization through the Lens of Popular Indian Cinema

Payal Banerjee
MWF 2:40-4 pm

This course will engage the world of popular Indian cinema, Bollywood and beyond. We will integrate scholarly articles on the subject, lectures, in-depth discussions, and of course, film screenings to explore the history and political economy of India and South Asia. Students will analyze how this vital cultural form deals with the politics of gender, class, caste, religion, and Indian nationalism. Our discussions will simultaneously focus on the role of globalization, migration, and the cultural significance of Indian characters on international media, e.g., Raj in the popular American sit-com The Big Bang Theory. Students are expected to engage with the readings, bring their reflections, and actively participate in class discussions. Enrollment limited to 16 first-year students. {WI} 4 credits

200-Level Courses

ENG 241 The Empire Writes Back: Postcolonial Literature

Ambreen Hai
MW 1:10-2:30 pm

An introduction to Anglophone fiction, poetry, drama and film from Africa, the Caribbean and South Asia in the aftermath of the British empire. Concerns include: the cultural work of writers as they respond to histories of colonial dominance; their ambivalence towards English linguistic, literary and cultural legacies; the ways literature can (re)construct national identities and histories, and explore assumptions of race, gender, class and sexuality; the distinctiveness of women writers and their modes of contesting cultural and colonial ideologies; global diasporas, migration and U.S. imperialism. Probable writers: Achebe, Soyinka, Ngugi, Aidoo, Dangarembga, Naipaul, Walcott, Cliff, Rushdie, Kureishi, Arundhati Roy, Jhumpa Lahiri, Meera Syal, and some theoretical essays. {L} 4 credits

MUS 220 Popular Music in the Islamic World
Margaret Sarkissian
TTh 1-2:50pm

Music is a thorny issue in many Islamic societies. There is often tension between hardliners who believe that music has no place in Islam and thus try to prohibit it and those who tolerate it, albeit within well-defined parameters. The debate intensifies in the case of popular music. Despite this, there is an incredible variety of vibrant popular music traditions throughout the Islamic world. In this course, we will engage with Islamic debates on popular music, explore music in a variety of cultures (e.g., Afghanistan, Algeria, Egypt, Iran, Malaysia, Pakistan, Senegal, and Turkey), and examine the ways they illuminate different themes (forms of Islam, issues of diaspora, gender considerations, musical diversity, etc.). No prerequisites, though MUS 101 will be helpful. {A} 4 credits

REL 275 Religious History of South Asia: Ancient to Medieval
Andy Rotman
MW 1:10-2:30 pm

This course is an introduction to the literature, thought, and practice of religious traditions in India, from ancient times to the classical period. Readings will include materials from the Vedas, Upanishads, and epics, from plays and poetry, as well as Buddhist and Jain literature. Particular consideration will be given to the themes of dharma, karma, love, and liberation. {H} 4 credits

SWG 230 Gender, Land and Food Movement

Elisabeth Armstrong
MWF 11 am-12:10 pm

We begin this course by sifting the earth between our fingers as part of a community learning partnership with area farms in Holyoke, Hadley, and other neighboring towns. Using women's movements and feminisms across the globe as our lens, this course develops an understanding of current trends in globalization. This lens also allows us to map the history of transnational connections between people, ideas and movements from the mid-twentieth century to the present. Through films, memoirs, fiction, ethnography, witty diatribes and graphic novels, this course explores women's activism on the land of laborers, and in their lives. Students will develop research projects in consultation with area farms, link their local research with global agricultural movements, write papers and give one oral presentation. Prerequisite: SWG 150 {H/S} 4 credits

300-Level Courses

IDP 320 Seminar on Global Learning: Women’s Health in India, Including Tibetans Living in Exile

Leslie Jaffe
Th 7:30-9:30 pm

The seminar examines women's health and cultural issues within India, with a focus on Tibetan refugees, and then applies the knowledge experientially. During interterm, the students travel to India and deliver workshops on reproductive health topics to young Tibetan women living at the Central University of Tibetan Studies in Sarnath where they will be further educated in Tibetan medicine. The seminar is by permission of the instructor with interested students required to write an essay explaining their interest and how the seminar furthers their educational goals. Enrollment limited to 5 students. 4 credits

Five College Courses Fall 2015

There are also many South Asia-related courses offered throughout the Five Colleges. You can use the Five College Course Guide to find courses with a South Asia focus.

Amherst College
ARHA Arts of the Book (Rice) TTh 1-2:20 pm
ASLC 152/RELI 152 Buddhist Traditions (Heim) TTh 10-11:20 am
ASLC 452/FAMS 322 Feminist Cinema (Shandilya) T 2:30-5 pm

Hampshire College
CSI 0253 Cheap Labor-Terror Suspect (Reddy) W 2:30-5:20 pm

Mount Holyoke College

HIST 124 Modern South Asia (Datla) TTh 11:30 am-12:45 pm
HIST 301sa/GNDST 333sa Women and Gender in Modern South Asia (Datla) W 1:15-4:05 pm

UMass Amherst
HISTORY 250 Introduction to South Asian History and Culture (Srivastava) MW 10:10-11 am