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Level 5

5AAH2035: Conflict, Coexistence and Cooperation: South Asia's International Relations since 1900

Credit value: 30
Module convenor/tutor (2018/19): Dr Priya Atwal
Teaching pattern: 20 x 2 hour seminars (weekly)
Availability: Please see module list
Assessment: 1 x 3 hour examination (60%), 2 x 2,000 word essays (15% each) & 1 x oral presentation (10%)

Students are reassessed in the failed elements of assessment by the following methods: 1 x 3 hour examination (60%); 2 x 2,000 word essays (15% each); 1 x 1500 word essay (10%)

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.

This module examines the contemporary international politics of one of the world’s major regions: South Asia, home to nearly a fourth of the world’s population. In the early twentieth century, the British “Raj” encompassed or influenced the entire Indian sub-continent and was an international actor in its own right, exercising special rights in Tibet or sustaining British power in eastern Africa, the Middle-East and the Indian Ocean. In 1947-48, empire gave way to multiple nations (India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, the Maldives) that faced the challenge of working out their relations as separate countries. Independence also meant the reconfiguration of the Indian subcontinent’s strategic and political relations with the rest of the world, in the context of the Cold War and decolonisation.

This module explores these processes of change and how they shaped international conflict and cooperation in and around South Asia. Weekly discussions will progress in a broadly chronological fashion and draw on readings from a range of disciplines and fields beyond History (International Relations, Security Studies, Political Geography, Borderland Studies). Themes will include: colonial and post-colonial borders and their international consequences; the Great Game between British India & Czarist Russia at the start of the twentieth century; the Indo-Pakistani conflict over Kashmir; South Asia and the Cold War; Sino-Indian relations; how South Asia became one of the world’s most nuclear regions; the independence of Bangladesh; international tensions surrounding the use of shared rivers and other scarce water resources; the evolution of India’s international ambitions from 1947 to the present; the strategies and perspectives of South Asia’s smaller countries, like Bhutan or Nepal; the international consequences of “insurgencies” and terrorism in the sub-continent.

Provisional teaching plan

Semester 1

1. Introduction: South Asia and its borders
2. The British Raj in the international system
3. Decolonisation and international relations: The legacies of empire
4. Decolonisation and international relations: Building an international                      persona
5. From domestic to international relations: India and Pakistan
6. Kashmir
7. The Cold War in south Asia: Great powers encounters with the                              subcontinent
8. South Asia and the Cold War: Non-alignment
9. Sino-Indian relations: From peaceful coexistence to war
10. A new player in South Asia: 1971 and the independence of Bangladesh

Semester 2

11. Nuclear continent: South Asia and the bomb
12. Afghanistan
13. Poised to rise? India's ambitions in the 21st century
14. Yam between boulders? The smaller states of South Asia: Sri Lanka
15. Yam between boulders?  The Smaller states of South Asia: Nepal
16. The Indian Ocean: A new fulcrum of international politics?
17. Hydropolitics: Water resources and the international politics of                              South Asia
18. Non-state actors and South Asia's international relations: Insurgents                    and militants
19. Non-state actors and South Asia's international relations: Diasporas                     and borderlands
20. Concluding session

Suggested introductory reading

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

  • Bose, Sugata and Ayesha Jalal, Modern South Asia: History, Culture, Political Economy, (London: Routledge, 1998)
  • Chacko, Priya, Indian Foreign Policy: The Politics of Postcolonial Identity from 1947 to 2004, (London: Routledge, 2012)
  • Guha, Ramachandra, India after Gandhi: The History of the World's Largest Democracy, (London: Macmillan, 2007)
  • Hopkins, Ben, The Making of Modern Afghanistan, (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008)
  • Jalal, Ayesha, Democracy and Authoritarianism in South Asia: A Comparative and Historical Perspective, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995)
  • Ludden, David, India and South Asia: A Short History, 2nd edition (Oxford: One World, 2013)
  • Metcalf, Barbara and TR and Metcalf, A Concise History of Modern India,
    3rd edition (Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012)
  • Wilson, Jon, India Conquered: Britain's Raj and the Passions of Empire, (London: Simon & Schuster, 2016)
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