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240036 VO The anthropology of India and South Asia: An introduction (2020W)


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


Language: English

Examination dates


Classes (iCal) - next class is marked with N

Update 11.12.2020: Due to the current Covid-19 Situation the course will change to digital till the end of the semester.

Update 3.11.2020: Due to the current Covid-19 Situation the course will change to digital till the end of the year.

Wednesday 07.10. 15:00 - 18:15 Hybride Lehre
Hörsaal D Unicampus Hof 10 Hirnforschungzentrum Spitalgasse 4
Wednesday 04.11. 15:00 - 18:15 Digital
Thursday 05.11. 15:00 - 18:15 Digital
Wednesday 18.11. 15:00 - 18:15 Digital
Wednesday 02.12. 15:00 - 18:15 Digital
Wednesday 09.12. 15:00 - 18:15 Digital
Wednesday 13.01. 15:00 - 18:15 Digital


Aims, contents and method of the course

India and South Asia have been a very important subject of anthropological interest resulting in a rich body of literature. This course will provide students with key entry points into Indian and South Asian societies that can illuminate some of their fundamental workings and allow students to build up on them and expand their knowledge on the subcontinent. In particular, the course will discuss ethnographies that vividly illustrate the features of categories such as caste, gender, class and religion (and their intersections) together with processes of education, social mobility and migration among others - where the above categories come alive. Against this backdrop, the course aims to stress historical transformations within South Asian societies, often understood as sites of immobility, timelessness and tradition. What is more, the course will combine the readings with media representations of the topics discussed in class. After completing this course, students should be able to:

critically approach India and South Asia through a body of ethnographic works;
understand both shared features and internal diversity within South Asia;
identify elements testifying to South Asian societies’ historical transformation;
place South Asian societies within global trends;
make connections between the readings and the media sphere.

Reading list (first part)

Ahearn L.M. 2004. Literacy, power, and agency: Love letters and development in Nepal. Language and Education 18(4): 305-316
Ahmad S. 2008. Identity matters, culture wars: An account of Al-Huda (re)-defining identity and reconfiguring culture in Pakistan.Culture and Religion 9 (1): 63-80
Alter J. 1997. Seminal truth: A modern science of male celibacy in north India. Medical Anthropology Quarterly 11(3): 275-298
Bedi T. 2018. Urban histories of place and labour: The chillia taximen of Bombay/Mumbai. Modern Asian Studies 52(5): 1604-1638
Ciotti M. 2011. Remaking traditional sociality, ephemeral friendships and enduring political alliances: ‘State-made’ Dalit youth in rural northern Indian society. Focaal Journal of Global and Historical Anthropology 59: 19-32
Ciotti M. 2010. ‘The bourgeois woman and the half-naked one’: Or the Indian nation's contradictions personified. Modern Asian Studies 4: 785-815
Ciotti M. 2006. ‘In the past we were a bit "Chamar".: Education as a self- and community engineering process in northern India. The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (N.S.) 12: 899-916

Assessment and permitted materials

Multiple-choice examination

Minimum requirements and assessment criteria

For a positive grade, >50 % is required

87-100 %= 1
75-86,99 %= 2
63-74,99 %= 3
50-62,99 %= 4
0-49,00 % = 5

Examination topics

Multiple-choice examination covering all the topics discussed in class. The examination will assess the students’ thorough and critical understanding of the readings

Reading list

Reading list (second part)

Del Franco N. 2010. Aspirations and self-hood: Exploring the meaning of higher secondary education for girl college students in rural Bangladesh. Compare 40(2): 147-165
Fuller C. 2004. The camphor flame:Popular Hinduism and society in India - Revised and expanded edition. Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, pp. 3-28
Fuller C. J. and Narasimhan H. 2013. Marriage, education, and employment among Tamil Brahman women in South India, 18912010. Modern Asian Studies 47(1): 53-84
Gorringe H. 2008.The caste of the nation: Untouchability and citizenship in South India. Contributions to Indian Sociology (n.s.) 42(1): 123-49
Hossain A. 2012. Beyond emasculation: Being Muslim and becoming hijra in South Asia. Asian Studies Review 36(4): 495-513
Jodhka S.S. 2017. Caste in contemporary India. London: Routledge, pp. 1-18
Khurshid A. 2017. Does education empower women? The regulated empowerment of parhi likhi women in Pakistan. Anthropology & Education Quarterly 48(3): 25-268
Liechty M. 2010. "Out here in Kathmandu": Youth and the contradictions of modernity in urban Nepal. In D.P. Mines and S Lamb (eds.) Everyday life in South Asia. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, pp. 40-49
Luhrmann T. M. 1994. The good Parsi: The postcolonial ‘feminization’ of a colonial elite. Man N.S. 29(2): 333-357
Mines M. 1982. Models of caste and the left-hand division in South India. American Ethnologist 467-484
Nahar P. and Richters A. 2011. Suffering of childless women in Bangladesh: The intersection of social identities of gender and class. Anthropology & Medicine 18(3): 327-338
Osella C. and Osella F. 1998. Friendship and flirting: Micropolitics in Kerala, South India. The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 4(2): 189-206
Philips A. 2003. Rethinking culture and development: Marriage and gender among the tea plantation workers in Sri Lanka. Gender & Development 11(2): 20-29
Rao N. and Hossain M.I. 2012. "I want to be respected": Migration, mobility, and the construction of alternate educational discourses in rural Bangladesh. Anthropology & Education Quarterly 43(4): 415-428
Simpson E. 2003. Migration and Islamic reform in a port town of western India. Contributions to Indian Sociology 37(1-2): 83-108
Tyagi A. and Sen A. 2020. Love-jihad (Muslim sexual seduction) and ched-chad (sexual harassment): Hindu nationalist discourses and the ideal/deviant urban citizen in India. Gender, Place & Culture 27(1): 104-125
Upadhya C. 1997. Social and cultural strategies of class formation in coastal Andhra Pradesh. Contributions to Indian Sociology N.S. 31(2): 169-193
van der Veer P. 2002. Religion in South Asia. Annual Review of Anthropology 31: 173-187
Zaman M.F. 2019. Segregated from the city: Women’s spaces in Islamic movements in Pakistan. City & Society 31(1): 55-76
Zharkevich I. 2019. Money and blood: Remittances as a substance of relatedness in transnational families in Nepal. American Anthropologist 121(4): 884-896
2010. Seven prevalent misconceptions about India’s caste system. In D.P. Mines and S. Lamb (eds.) Everyday life in South Asia. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, pp. 153-154

Association in the course directory

Last modified: We 21.04.2021 11:26