HIST 2149: Conflicts and Change in India

This course studies the problems and history of South Asian social, economic, and political change since Indian independence in 1947. In recent decades Asian society has been transformed and often traumatized by religious “communal” violence and by social conflict between high and low status communities. Activist women’s organizations demand equality. Tribal and village communities displaced by “progress” increasingly challenge the large dam and industrial projects of state development strategies. Education policies have failed to meet goals. India continues to face a dangerous dispute with Pakistan over the status of the state of Kashmir. The post-September 11 war on the Taliban and terrorism has had wide impact. This course uses histories, scholarly texts, recent Indian films (Fire, The Bandit Queen), ethnographic memoirs, television news video, and development reports to illuminate historic socio-economic and political patterns and the contemporary forces of change that now challenge the status quo. For class papers students will discuss issues of personal interest within our range of course topics (religious politics and conflict, “caste” social struggles, women’s issues, educational reform, the Narmada dam issue, the Kashmir conflict, development, etc).