South Asia Studies Program
South Asia Studies acquaints students with South Asian civilizations through an interdisciplinary study of the languages, literatures, histories, religions, arts, social and political institutions, and cultural patterns
The Indus River Valley civilization (3300-1300 BCE), situated in what is now Pakistan, was one of the world's great ancient civilizations. Today, the South Asian subcontinent, the region that stretches from Afghanistan through Pakistan and India to Bangladesh (and onto Northeast India) and from Nepal and Bhutan in the Himalayas to Sri Lanka and the Maldives in the Indian Ocean, is known as South Asia. Governments of these eight countries comprise the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation. South Asia Studies is the study of this region, its cultures, languages, and people, including in the South Asian diaspora.
South Asia has contributed richly to the arts, humanities, and social, political, and religious thought of the world. The South Asian subcontinent has produced a large body of knowledge on artistic, linguistic, and literary practices; on varieties of imperialism; on the social construction of political and religious identities; on the intersections of economics, ethnicity, gender; and on conflict and peace.
With 14 faculty who have research and teaching commitments in South Asia, across eleven departments and programs, we are able to ensure that each student benefits from a unique, well-designed course of study.
We consider South Asia Studies to be an ideal liberal arts concentration because the subjects of inquiry are complex and challenging and because the methods of inquiry are necessarily interdisciplinary. Students learn to think multi-contextually and at the intersection of disciplines. Students also learn different ways of knowing. For centuries, South Asia has developed its own ways of knowing. The South Asia Studies Program allows students to learn both European and South Asian epistemologies. At the same time, students are required to focus on a single method, such as literary analysis, or a single thematic focus, such as international development. Students learn intercultural skills, including how to communicate in South Asian languages.
Individual courses aim to engage students in rigourous encounters with a crucial but underrepresented area of the world. Majors and minors develop facility in aesthetic judgment; linguistic, historical and literary interpretation; and behavior and social analysis.
We expect each student to gain broad understanding of the cultures, histories, religions, societies, and politics of the region and to gain skills in the ability to speak and comprehend, and to write and read in Hindi and Urdu, two of South Asia's principal languages, or in another South Asian language. We expect students to acquire skills and sentiments needed to understand South Asian arts, cultures, histories, and politics. The South Asia Studies Program works to develop in students the skills to become critical thinkers, cogent writers, and effective researchers on a range of vital questions using the fertile fields of South Asia for evidence and inspiration.
If you are considering declaring a major or minor in South Asia Studies, please speak with the director of the program or one of the South Asia Studies affiliated faculty. They can apprise you of upcoming courses and other learning opportunities and help you to design a study plan that best meets your learning objectives.