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Cultures of South Asia – This cluster has been CANCELLED
This learning community is organized around the theme of everyday cultures of South Asia. The Indian subcontinent is a place of rich cultural and historical intersections, comprised of several millennia of contact among peoples through oceanic and overland migration and trade, religious pilgrimage, colonial conquest, and globalization. This cross-cultural contact has created a web of contemporary social, political, intellectual, and creative traditions rich for discussion. The principle aim of this community will be to explore the diversity and complexity of one of the oldest civilizations in the world. Through the lens of anthropology, history, literature, religion, and popular culture, students will be introduced to the history of South Asia’s major religious traditions (Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism, Buddhism, and Jainism); the role that these traditions play in everyday life; the various formations and politics of identity and culture in the context of colonialism and postcolonialism (literature, film, protest, modernity); and the expression of ideas about race, gender, sexuality, identity, and the body in contemporary South Asia.
Another learning objective of the community will be for participants to themselves experience aspects of South Asian culture including food, ritual, dance, film, and art. The course is organized around in-class activities as well as field trips including visits to a restaurant, temple, and museum. In addition students will have the opportunity to learn about festivals including Diwali and Eid and to observe popular forms of media including dance and film (i.e. Bollywood). Drawing from the expertise of faculty across several fields (cultural anthropology, history, literature, and religion), the community will equip students with a range of approaches and methods of analysis so that students themselves may also face the challenges of their own social encounters and changing identities.
Choose one of two full year first-year seminars:
This full year course in the cluster combines disciplinary perspectives associated with history and literature. The aim is to immerse students in the region’s past and present. As we might expect of a region that has been continuously occupied from c. 4000 BCE, South Asia is host to a multiplicity of languages, literatures, histories, and cultures. The aim of this course is to acquaint students with some of this multiplicity. The fall term will focus on historical development, providing not only a basic overview of “what happened” in South Asia in political, economic, and cultural terms but introducing students to the complexity of historical study itself. Thus, we will be engaged in questions of what constitutes an archive, how archives are created and interpreted, and how historical narratives are as much about perspective and intention as they are about historical “fact.” In other words, we will explore how history, itself, is a literary genre. Other themes to be discussed include globalization and the development of the Indian Ocean world, religion and power, colonialism, technologies of rule and resistance, categories of difference, nationalism, Partition, postcoloniality, and diaspora. In the second term, students, armed with the valuable context history provides, will have the opportunity to sample the range of cultural production of contemporary South Asia including, we hope, contemporary social media, street art, popular culture, in addition to novels, journalism, poetry, and drama.
FYSM 1004 syllabus
Instructors – Sukeshi Kamra, Danielle Kinsey
This course provides students with a comprehensive overview of the major religious traditions found in South Asia. The course seeks to create an understanding of the histories of Hinduism, Buddhism,
Jainism, Sikhism and Islam, as well as an appreciation of these religious traditions as they are lived today by contemporary South Asians. The course will initially develop an understanding of these traditions in and of themselves before moving on to discuss how these traditions have interacted, and are interacting, with each other. As such the themes explored in the seminar will be: community and group identity formation, the colonial impact on religion and culture, the use of religions in nationalistic enterprises, the role of South Asians living in the ‘diaspora’, South Asia as a multi-religious
and multicultural context, violence and cooperation between religious traditions and individuals. A key goal of the course is to have students critically engage with the idea that religions are social and historical objects of study, as well as being ways of life for the adherents of these traditions.
Instructor – Richard Mann
Students in this cluster will be signed up for the following lecture courses and corresponding tutorials:
An examination of a range of anthropological approaches to the study of humankind and culture; may include discussions of human evolution, the study of cultures and societies past and present, and the study of language and symbolism.
Examination of anthropological issues in the study of social institutions such as the family, economy, politics and belief systems. Debates about gender, development, cultural differences, health and the environment may also be examined.