Goals of the course
Ancient India was an Indic Civilization; medieval and modern South Asia became Indo-Islamic. This course goes beneath the political, cultural, and ethnic warfare of present-day South Asia to discover and assess the growth and development of this Indo-Islamic legacy. By challenging various communalist, regionalist, colonial, and post-colonial assertions, we suggest how Indian, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi publics (and their well-wishers) might revise the ideologically-driven, media-exploited, and socially devastating stereotypes and misunderstandings of their medieval and early modern pasts.
We cover Medieval Indo-Muslim civilization and political systems from the time Muslims arrived there; Turkic invasions; the urban revolution 13-14C; major Islamic dynasties, especially the Delhi Sultanate; Indian Sufi mysticism; Bhakti mysticism; the cosmopolitan Vijayanagara Empire; the Mughals; imperial decentralization and cultural fluorescence; the rise of regional political systems; early Europeans in South Asia; establishment of English domination of the maritime provinces and hegemony over some hinterland states; beginnings of the British Raj.
Emphasis will be on cultural and intellectual as well as political history, on major ethnic and confessional identities within India, and on the South as well as the North. Our geographical spread is modern Afghanistan to East Bengal, and Kashmir to Ceylon, with a lecture- discussion format, student participation, audio-visual materials, frequent handouts of study aids, and a free-wheeling narrative style.
Requirements You may choose between the two plans below, according to your personal aptitudes:
One mid-term 50% One map exercise* 20%
The final exam 50% One mid-term 40%
The final exam 40%
*See Map Exercise list; due in class Thurs. 15 September, at the start of class.
Texts and Assignments
Readings are grouped topically, divided into required and suggested, and listed in no special order. All required readings are on 2-hour reserve. A photocopy packet is available at N K Print and Design (7 Elliewood Ave), and is denoted below as PHOCO. Our texts are for sale in University Bookstore:
Catherine B. Asher and Cynthia Talbot, India Before Europe (Cambridge U.P., 2006)
Annemarie Schimmel, The Empire of the Great Mughals (London: Reaktion Books, 2004)
Richard M. Eaton, The Rise of Islam and the Bengal Frontier (Berkeley: U.C. Press, 1993)
Lectures and Readings.
Serious students should familiarize themselves with those suggested readings marked (*). All are very strongly urged to read ahead of the lectures. Asking in an uninformed way about something in class that is clearly presented in the readings will reveal what you have not done, and will reduce everyone’s level of comfort, especially that of the very able TA for the class, Swati Chawla.
Note: the lectures, not being crammed into predigested time slots, are not dated. The reason? It allows free play of discussion, Q & A, and tangents in class. If this bothers you, do not take this class. The date of the mid-term will be decided by majority vote. The map is due on a fixed date.