Universität Wien FIND

142083 UE Rethinking the Body in South Asia - Imagination, Representation, and Practice (2021W)

Continuous assessment of course work


Note: The time of your registration within the registration period has no effect on the allocation of places (no first come, first served).


max. 24 participants
Language: English



Tuesdays 11:00 to 12:30, SR 6. Starts on the 5th of October.

Course dates are expected to be held on in person with a possibility of a hybrid format, if needed. "Hybrid" means students can attend on-site *or* online. However, if you come in person please come to the university tested, vaccinated or recovered.
For those who can't/won't be on-site, please contact me before hand so that we can discuss the sessions to be streamed via Moodle. This should rather be an exception for those who can't make it in person rather than the rule.
If possible please attend first session on site on 05/10/2021.


Aims, contents and method of the course

What is the body and what is the self in different South Asian contexts? How is it imagined, represented, and used in practice? How are notions of the body connected to cultural memory, biopolitics, and specific identities and worldviews at large? What is a (human) body made of and what constitutes an individual self? What are life and death in relation to the body Indic contexts? What about non-human entities and their interaction with humans? This seminar will delve into cultural questions related to representations of the body in South Asian traditions. We will explore how South Asians have unique perceptions and attitudes toward the body in religious and cultural contexts, as well as the processes of interpreting and representing notions of the body in different media: film, literature, and other expressions of popular culture.
Concentrating mainly on embodied practices such as yoga, ritual acts, chanting, eating, sex, asceticism, healing, possession, and performance in different settings, we will examine how the body is and has been experienced, imagined and represented in South Asia. We will also analyze the ways in which specific bodies have been "othered" as a powerful ideological discourse, which empowers or marginalizes specific communities thereby tackling questions of “race”, caste, class, religion, and gender. Utilizing an interdisciplinary perspective by means of textual study and array of disciplines (notably anthropology), we will explore both insider- and outsider perspectives and issues related to the body from the 2nd century CE up to the present-day.

Assessment and permitted materials

Weekly assignments (Mini-Essays) and active participation. An oral exam will conclude the seminar.

The oral participation comprises 40% of your grade. Active participation in the discussion and text interpretation and analysis; oral presentation of your weekly mini-essays, etc.
Your written work comprises also 45% of your grade: weekly mini-essays to be submitted via Moodle.

A final oral examination counts for 15% of your grade.

The seminar will be held in English. However, the assignments can be completed in German as well.

Minimum requirements and assessment criteria

The Seminar is planned in the in-person format to facilitate group discussions. Regular and active participation in each Seminar session. If there are students participating online who can't make it in person, it is required that you still participate actively (i.e no passive audience possible). In the case of absence without good reason (illness or similar) points will be deducted. There is no written paper at the end of the course, but an oral examination.
The oral examination is a one-on-one conversation of the topics discussed in class and the knowledge obtained. It counts for 15% of your final grade.

Examination topics

Reading material and themes from the weekly discussion. A bibliography and reading material will be provided via Moodle.

Reading list

Reading material and themes from the weekly discussion. A bibliography and reading material will be provided via Moodle.

Association in the course directory


Last modified: We 10.11.2021 15:28