Current Undergraduate Courses

These are the undergraduate-level SALC courses that are being offered in Winter 2024.

SALC 20100 Introduction to the Civilizations of South Asia I

(ANTH 24101 / HIST 10800 / MDVL 20100 / SOSC 23000)

The first quarter focuses on Islam in South Asia, Hindu-Muslim interaction, Mughal political and literary traditions, and South Asia’s early encounters with Europe. Instructor: Muzaffar Alam

SALC 25323 Tolerance and Intolerance in South Asia

(CRES 25323 / HIST 26812 / KNOW 25323 / RLST 25323)

Few places in the world are as embroiled in the problem of diversity as South Asia, where sectarian violence—fought mainly along religious lines, but also along caste, gender, and linguistic lines—is at the center of political maneuvering. South Asia offers important lessons in how people manage to live together despite histories of mutual strife and conflict about communities and castes.

Focusing on the period of British colonial rule, this class explores different instances and ideologies of toleration and conflict. How were South Asian discourses of toleration by such leaders as Gandhi and Nehru different from their European counterparts (e.g., John Locke and John Rawls)? How did their ideologies differ from those articulated by their minority peers such as Ambedkar, Azad, and Madani?

We will analyze constitutive precepts, namely secularism, syncretism, toleration. Our attention here will be on the universal connotations of these ideas and their South Asian expression. Fifth week onward, we will turn our attention to select thinkers: Gandhi, Ambedkar, Azad, Madani. Our focus here will be on the ways that each intellectual negotiated the thorny issues of toleration, difference, ethnicity, and belonging. All the thinkers covered in this class had an active presence in nationalist era politics. Finally, we will read historical accounts of some of the most frequent causes of intolerance, namely cow slaughter, music played before the mosque, and desecration of sacred objects. Instructor: Taimur Reza

SALC 25327 Modernity and Islam in South Asia: Piety, Poetry and Politics

What did the experience of modernity and colonialism look like for Islamic South Asia? How did South Asian Muslims, especially in North India, respond to the many challenges and opportunities modernity brought in its wake? This course explores how custodians of Islamic religious and poetic traditions responded to colonial modernity. We also introduce some key ideas of postcolonial studies, and apply as well as think critically about them in the light of the Indo-Islamic case-study.

We begin the course by exploring the possible meanings of modernity and colonialism, before diving deeper into Indo-Islamic modernity using two broad and highly intertwined themes: religion, encompassing subthemes of science, rationality, and progress, and literature, especially poetry and the fate of the Persian and Urdu ghazal tradition, occasionally making comparisons with other pre-colonial genres in other Indian languages. We will look at the creation of new genres and new kinds of poetry in Persian and Urdu that emerge both to answer the call of modernity and sometimes to reject and attack it. Instructor: Shariq Khan

SALC 26501 Global Health, Environment, and Indigenous Futures

(ANTH 20700 / CEGU 20700 / RDIN 20700 / CHDV 20700)

The global coronavirus pandemic has made evident the significance of ecological (im)balances for the well-being of societies. The relationship between structural inequalities, changing environments and health, especially for historically and socio-economically marginalized communities, is now well established. At the same time, a growing body of literature links the material conditions of marginalized communities—for instance, spaces of dwelling and conditions of labor—to health status, globally. Based on a set of interdisciplinary literature arranged through anthropological theories, this course will
critically engage with notions of health and well-being for indigenous communities, tracing injustices that stem histories of racial, caste- and ethnicity-based, and environmental exclusions. The readings are organized around one central question: What does it mean to be indigenous in a changing planet where social, political, and economic systems are marked by enduring legacies of systemic violence? This graduate and undergraduate level course will introduce contexts within which structural exclusions lead to ill-health and loss of well-being among indigenous communities across the globe. The aim is to develop critical thinking on the political economy and political ecologies of indigenous health as imbricated with issues of social, economic, and environmental justice. Instructor: Sanghamitra Das