ANTH 248
Body Politics in South Asia: Gender, Sex, Religion, and Nation Spring 2015
Division II Exploring Diversity Initiative
Cross-listed ANTH 248 / ASST 248 / INST 248 / WGSS 249 / REL 248
This is not the current course catalog

Class Details

This course examines the relationship between body, gender, sex, and society in South Asia, using three countries and religions—India, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh, and Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam—as its foil. The course uses the body as a lens by which to unpack South Asian discourses that link body and sexuality with nation, community, and population. In particular, it explores a South Asian sociology that links individual and social bodies in ways that occasion solidarity as well as social suffering, violence as well as communal cohesion. How do bodies come to signify the purity or prosperity of the nation or community and with what social or discursive effects? We begin by unpacking foundational theories of the body as proposed by Mauss, Foucault, Douglas, and Bourdieu in order to better understand how local discourses of the body help produce gender and other social hierarchies in South Asia. By considering how the human body can serve as a map for society and vice versa, we examine both classical discourses and modern institutional practices of the body including the temple, the monastery, the mosque, and the mendicant, as well as bodily practices such as yoga, celibacy, sex work, and new reproductive technologies. We also analyze how the body has served as a symbol of nation, community, and social health. Throughout, we are interested in the cross-cutting effects of gender and sex in perpetuating structural hierarchies and social suffering around the body in South Asia.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 25
Expected: 25
Class#: 3755
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: class presentations, class blog, final paper, attendance & participation in class discussions
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: majors in Religion, Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Asian Studies and Anthropology/Sociology
Distributions: Division II Exploring Diversity Initiative
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
ANTH 248 Division II ASST 248 Division II INST 248 Division II WGSS 249 Division II REL 248 Division II
Attributes: INST South + Southeast Asia Studies Electives
PHLH Bioethics + Interpretations of Health
WGSS Racial Sexual + Cultural Diversity Courses

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