India — Modern South Asia


Spring 2017
12 Haviland
Day & Time: 
TuTh 11-12:30
Class Number: 

This course is designed as a survey course in modern Indian history from 1757-1947. Modern Indian history is inextricable from British colonial rule over India, and for that reason the early part of the course will address the decentralization of the Mughal Empire (1526-1858) in the late 18th century, the history of the East India Company (founded in 1600), the Company’s activities in India prior to its establishment of a colonial state, and the beginning of empire starting with its first major military victory in 1757. The course will introduce students to Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi and his profound and complex contribution to Indian (and Pakistani) nationalist politics. Gandhi was born in an India under colonial rule; he became a vocal critic of “Western modernity” and a powerful advocate for non-violent non-cooperation as the *only* justifiable means of struggle against British colonialism. In this course, we shall place Gandhi’s various personal and political writings including his autobiography, My Experiments with Truth, alongside the larger social, political, economic, and nationalist history of India. We shall also engage with the key political players with Gandhi in the struggle for Indian independence, including those who held radically different views such as B.R. Ambedkar, E.V.R. Naicker, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, and Vinayak Damodar Savarkar. In addition, we shall read primary sources as well as scholarly works in both history and historiography that analyze and evaluate British colonialism’s impact on modern India and Gandhi’s role in the same. The objective of this course is to present a portrait of an extraordinary world historical political leader, but also to present him in conversation with other South Asian political figures of equal importance. Successful completion of this course should prepare students for more intensive work on South Asian history.