Universität Wien

240036 VO The anthropology of India and South Asia: An introduction (2021W)


The lecturer can invite students to a grade-relevant discussion about partial achievements. Partial achievements that are obtained by fraud or plagiarized result in the non-evaluation of the course (entry 'X' in certificate). The plagiarism software 'Turnitin' will be used for courses with continuous assessment.


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 12.01.2022: Due to the current situation the course will be held digital until the end of the semester.
Update 13.12.2021: The course will be held digital until December 17.
Update 22.11.2021: The course will be held digital during lockdown.

Wednesday 06.10. 13:15 - 14:45 Hybride Lehre
Hörsaal II NIG Erdgeschoß
Wednesday 13.10. 13:15 - 14:45 Hybride Lehre
Hörsaal II NIG Erdgeschoß
Wednesday 20.10. 13:15 - 14:45 Hybride Lehre
Hörsaal II NIG Erdgeschoß
Thursday 28.10. 13:15 - 14:45 Hörsaal II NIG Erdgeschoß
Wednesday 03.11. 13:15 - 14:45 Hörsaal II NIG Erdgeschoß
Wednesday 10.11. 13:15 - 14:45 Hörsaal II NIG Erdgeschoß
Wednesday 17.11. 13:15 - 14:45 Hörsaal II NIG Erdgeschoß
Wednesday 24.11. 13:15 - 14:45 Digital
Wednesday 01.12. 09:45 - 11:15 Digital
Wednesday 15.12. 13:15 - 14:45 Digital
Wednesday 12.01. 13:15 - 14:45 Digital
Wednesday 19.01. 13:15 - 14:45 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 intersection) together with processes of education, social mobility and migration among others - where the above categories become 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.

Assessment and permitted materials

Multiple-choice examination. No materials permitted.
26 January 2022
1 March 2022
1 April 2022
2 May 2022

Minimum requirements and assessment criteria

For a positive grade, 51 % is required

90-100 %= 1
77-89 %= 2
64-76 %= 3
51-63 %= 4
0-50 % = 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

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

Ahearn L.M. 2004. Literacy, power, and agency: Love letters and development in Nepal. Language and Education 18(4): 305-316

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. 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

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. 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

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

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

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

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

Association in the course directory

Last modified: Fr 12.05.2023 00:20