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Contemporary South Asia, part 1 and 2



Drs. Carolien Stolte for Part 1: , 071-5272271
Dr. Erik de Maaker for Part 2: , 071-5276612

Course description

This survey course provides an interdisciplinary introduction to contemporary South Asia. Combining historical and anthropological perspectives, the course explores a range of political, socio-economic and cultural topics. Among these are a critical assessment of the colonial past, and its relevance for the states that presently exist on the subcontinent. South Asian societies are characterized as much by unity, as by diversity and hierarchies. The course addresses notions such as caste, tribe and class and the significance that is attributed to these in present day South Asia. In what ways are divisions inspired by religion? And how does the rapid but very uneven economic growth that characterizes the subcontinent affect different categories of people?

Aim of the course

This course familiarizes students with some of the most important historical and social science paradigms regarding South Asia. These paradigms are treated in the literature that is read, and in the lectures. In addition, students acquire basic knowledge about modern South Asian history, and about the main issues at stake in the region.

Methods of instruction

  • lectures 28 hours (42 sbu)

  • literature 1224 blz (204 sbu)

  • written assigments, 2700 words (36 sbu)
    Totaal 280 sbu (10 ECTS)

Study material

  • “Modern South Asia: History, Culture, Political Economy” by Sugata Bose, Ayesha Jalal Routledge, 2004 (ISBN 0415307872, 9780415307871)

  • “Everyday Life in South Asia” by Diane P. Mines, Sarah Lamb, Indiana University Press, 2002 (ISBN 0253340802, 9780253340801)
    Both books can be bought at bookshop “Kooyker” in Leiden.

  • Additional readings (primarily journal articles, available through the Leiden University digital library).


  • Written assignments (50% of the final grade).

  • Take home examination (50% of the final grade).

Assignments have to be submitted in class, in hard copy. Email submissions are only accepted in exceptional cases, if this has been previously agreed upon. Re-submissions may be submitted in the class subsequent to the one in which the particular assignment was returned to the student. No re-submissions after the final lecture.

Time table

This course will take place in het Pieter de la Courtgebouw (Wassenaarseweg 52).

Part 1 (code 7HIS-2A):
Wednesdays 10 February t/m 24 March 2010, 15-17 h, room 5A41

Part 2 (code 2RZA09):
Wednesdays 31 March t/m 26 May 2010, 15-17 h, room 5A41.
No class on 5 and 12 May.

Exam: 2 June 2010, 10-13 h, room SA41
Retake: 24 June 2010, 10-13 h, room 5A42


The course programme and a list of additional literature will be made available on Blackboard at least one week preceding the start of the course.


  • Bachelorstudenten CA-OS, TCIT en Geschiedenis:
    Inschrijving mogelijk via het secretariaat CA-OS, kamer 3A19, tel. 5273469, e-mail:, tussen 30 november en 22 januari 2010

  • International exchange students:
    For application please follow regular procedure through International Office, or contact the departmental coordinator N. Osterhaus-Simic.

  • A la carte students need to register for this course both at the Institute of Cultural Anthropology and at the Faculty of Humanities. Students will be charged by both institutions for Part 1 and Part 2 of this course. Deadline for “a la carte” registration is January 18, 2010.
    Please follow the procedures as described on the website of the Institute CA-OS and the Faculty of Humanities: A la carte onderwijs .

  • Dit college is niet beschikbaar voor Contractonderwijs.