WGSS 246
India's Identities: Religion, Caste, and Gender Fall 2014
Division II Writing Skills Exploring Diversity Initiative
Cross-listed ANTH 246 / REL 246 / ASST 246 / WGSS 246
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Class Details

This course considers India’s contradictory legacy as a booming Asian democracy and fragile society built upon deep and enduring divisions. India’s rapidly growing populace and landscape is often described in terms of multiple identities or fragmenting oppositions: Hindu/Muslim, rich/poor, high caste/outcaste, male/female, and so forth. This course deconstructs the historic roots and ongoing causal factors that produce structural violence against women and religious minorities in modern India. It highlights the social practices that have produced critical axes of difference around the themes of religion, gender, and sexuality using key moments or regions of India as points of departure. It contrasts the explosive effects of religion, gender, and caste during the tragedy of Partition with the ongoing production of communal and gender-based violence in India today, using Kashmir and New Delhi as microcosms for our study. We will consider the ways that multiple subjectivities and polarized identities intersect with individual agency to produce a social landscape of hierarchy and conflict across India today. We are also interested in the socio-cultural forces that reproduce or shore up these binaries as much as third terms or middle paths that attempt to transcend or diffuse them. For instance, we explore the ways that Buddhism is and is not a middle way between Hindu/Muslim conflict in Indian Kashmir and how the notion of a third sex is and is not a middle term that transcends the gender binary of male/female. Course resources include ethnographic and sociological analyses, oral histories, and popular media that complicate our understanding India’s diverse and fragmented society. This course fulfills the Exploring Diversity Initiative by theorizing the ways that difference has been used to effect profound historical, social, and individual changes in the Indian subcontinent.
The Class: Format: tutorial
Limit: 10
Expected: 10
Class#: 1755
Grading: OPG
Requirements/Evaluation: weekly writing assignments and tutorial attendance every week
Extra Info: may not be taken on a pass/fail basis
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: majors in Anthropology and Sociology, Religion, Asian Studies, or Women's, Gender & Sexuality Studies
Distributions: Division II Writing Skills Exploring Diversity Initiative
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
ANTH 246 Division II REL 246 Division II ASST 246 Division II WGSS 246 Division II
Attributes: INST South + Southeast Asia Studies Electives
PHLH Bioethics + Interpretations of Health
REL South Asian Traditions Courses
WGSS Racial Sexual + Cultural Diversity Courses

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