HIS 382N • Communalism in Colonial India
3:00 PM-6:00 PM
The partition of the Indian subcontinent in 1947 along religious lines has resulted in a reading back into history of the political division. Hindsight, however, is not an accurate guide to historical understanding, for it distorts our view of the past by emphasizing seemingly inevitable outcomes and obscuring other forces that may have been equally salient in the historical context. To understand the emergence of communalism, or religious nationalism, in nineteenth and early twentieth century India, it is necessary to examine the mentalities of the time, the competing forces and identities, among which religion was only one of the many forms of self-definition.
The readings for this course will emphasize indigenous formulations of identity, as well as the categories and constructions placed upon them by the colonial power. They will take into consideration movements for religious and social reform, literary expressions of identity, and popular mobilization. While not denying that the colonial encounter was crucial to the emergence of nationalism, we will seek to understand the complex interaction of Indian and western mentalities in this context.
This graduate seminar will involve extensive readings, class discussions and short papers based on the readings, and a longer research paper. Class participation and reports of discussions will constitute approximately 45% of the grade, research papers approximately 55%.
Peter van der Veer, Religious Nationalism Gyandendra Pandey, The Construction of Communalism in Colonial Northern India C. Breckenridge and P. van der Veer, eds., Orientalism and the Postcolonial Predicament Mushirul Hasan, ed., India's Partition And other readings that will be placed on e-reserves