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Reading Indian Nationalism


Admission requirements



This course provides an introduction to an important aspect of modern Indian history for students who have not necessarily studied Indian history previously. Indian nationalism refers to the many underlying forces that molded the Indian independence movement since the late nineteenth century, and strongly continue to influence the politics of India. While it is at the heart of many contrasting ideologies that brought together peoples, united against a common enemy, British rule, it was also the cause of ethnic and religious conflict in Indian society. This course will address the wide spectrum of political organizations, philosophies, and movements, both non-violent and revolutionary which had the common aim of ending British colonial authority in India. It will also question the manner in which nationalism dealt with inequalities based on caste and class and addressed the women’s question. This course will allow students to engage with some of the path-breaking studies of the history of Indian nationalism that have a bearing on Indian history as well as theories of nationalism. Students will have the opportunity to read texts of Indian thinkers such as Tagore, Savarkar, Gandhi, Nehru, Iqbal and Ambedkar as well as memoirs and writings of ordinary Indians in order to understand the various idioms of protest that co-existed within the fold of Indian nationalism.

Course objectives

The course aims at giving students a basic knowledge about nationalism in India and introducing them to thinkers from the region and important historiographical debates.
It also aims at imparting certain skills that include: reading critically, summarising and presenting an argument.



Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

Attendance and participation are obligatory. Classes missed for a good reason (to the discretion of the conveners and to be discussed BEFORE the class takes place) will have to be made up with an extra assignment. Being absent without notification can result in a lower grade or exclusion from the term end exams and a failing grade for the course.

Course Load

  • Total course load for the course: 140 hours.

  • Contact hours in class: 13 × 2 = 26 hours.

  • Preparation for classes: 12 × 2 = 24 hours

  • Preparing class presentation and paper: 58 hs

  • Preparation for exam: 32 hours

Assessment method

1) 25 % oral presentation and participation in discussion
2) 25 % written assignment
3) 50 % final examination

In order to pass the course, students must obtain an overall mark of “5.50” (=6) or higher.

An exam re-sit is possible only for element 3 (50%), and only if the student received an overall mark for the course of “5.49” (=5) or lower.

The course is an integrated whole. All categories must be completed in the same academic year. No partial marks can be carried over into following years.



Reading list

To be announced


Students are required to register through uSis. To avoid mistakes and problems, students are strongly advised to register in uSis through the activity number which can be found in the timetable in the column under the heading “Act.nbr.”.

Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

(Studeren à la carte is not possible for this course.)

Contact information

Dr. P. Kanungo
or Dr. P. Kanungo


Students with disabilities

The university is committed to supporting and accommodating students with disabilities as stated in the university protocol (especially pages 3-5). Students should contact Fenestra Disability Centre at least four weeks before the start of their courses to ensure that all necessary academic accomodations can be made in time conform the abovementioned protocol.

Academic Integrity

Students are expected to be familiar with Leiden University policies on plagiarism and academic integrity. Plagiarism will not be tolerated. If you submit any work with your name affixed to it, it is assumed to be your own work with all sources used properly indicated and documented in the text (with quotations and/or citations).