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Level 5

5AAH1069 Emergency, War and the Angry Young Man. South Asia in the 1970s

Credit value: 15
Module convenor/tutorDr Jon Wilson

Teaching pattern: 10 x 2-hour seminar (weekly)
Availability: Please see module list for relevant year
Assessment (2019/20): 1 x 1,500 word formative essay, 1 x 3,000 word essay

Students are reassessed in the failed elements of assessment and by the same methods as the first attempt.

Assessment pre 2019/20: 2 x 2,500 word essay

The modules offered in each academic year are subject to change in line with staff availability and student demand: there is no guarantee every module will run. Module descriptions and information may vary between years.

The 1970s shaped the modern Indian subcontinent – a region which contains a quarter of the world’s population. The decade saw war redefine the boundaries of the subcontinent’s states as Bangladesh became independent and conflict between India and Pakistan intensified. Like many other parts of the world, South Asia’s economies were hit by famine, inflation and economic depression. This was a decade of riot, insurgency and rebellion. It saw the growth of political violence on an unprecedented scale. It saw the rise, too, of violence on screen as the figure of the ‘Angry Young Man’, the macho outsider breaking the rules to achieve justice, came to dominate Indian cinema.

Through a mix of contemporary and recent texts, and visual media such as film, students will explore the political, economic, social and culture history of South Asia in this turbulent decade. They will ask how the political systems which ruled South Asia since the second world war and independence from the British empire weakened and in many places collapsed. They will trace the emergence of a more impatient, populist political and cultural style in the 1970s, which powerfully influenced the politics and culture of South Asia today. While students will focus on events occurring in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, they will connect and compared with processes occurring on a global scale, assuming South Asian history can only be understood in relation to other regions. Students need no prior experience of studying South Asian history.

Provisional Teaching Plan

  1. South Asia before the 1970s: growth or stagnation?
  2. The countryside. Green revolution or economic hiatus?
  3. The urban middle class: jobs and universities
  4. Political crisis I. Maoism and South Asia’s 1968s
  5. Political crisis II. The Bangladesh war
  6. Political crisis III. Indira and the emergency
  7. Angry men: the politics of film
  8. Politics after crisis I. Janata, the return of Congress
  9. Politics after crisis II. Military rule in Pakistan and Bangladesh
  10. Business in the 1970s: the origins of liberalization?

Suggested introductory reading 

This is suggested reading and purchase of these books is not mandatory.

Jon Wilson, ‘China and South Asia. Contrasting trajectories’ in China, Hong Kong and the Long 1970s in Global Perspective (2017)

Ayesha Jalal, Democracy and Authoritarianism in South Asia. A Comparative and Historical Perspective (1995)

Emma Tarlo Unsettling Memories. Narratives of the Emergency in Delhi (2003)

Srinath Raghavan, 1971. A Global History of the Creation of Bangladesh (2013)

Sanjay Ruparelia, Divided We Govern. Coalition Politics in India (2015)

Sunil Khilnani, The Idea of India (1997)

Stephen P. Cohen, The Idea of Pakistan (2006)

Ashish Radhadhyaksha, Indian Cinema in the Time of Celluloid. From Bollywood to the Emergency (2009)

Ravi Vasudevan, The Melodramatic Public. Film Form and Spectatorship in Indian Cinema (2016)

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