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Contemporary India I: Political Power and Social Order in Historical Perspective (Module)

Module description

The module offers students a foundation in the study of modern India by introducing them to the deep historical forces that have shaped the Indian subcontinent before independence and partition in 1947.

It is impossible to understand contemporary India without a sense of the deep historical forces that shaped the Indian subcontinent before 1947. 1947, the year of India's independence and simultaneous Partition, is conventionally accepted as an unbridgeable divide between the era of colonial rule and the partition of British India into the independent states of India and Pakistan. Historians of India rarely venture forward beyond 1947; conversely, social and political scientists simply pick up the story from 1947. In fact, powerful continuities exist across the spectacular rupture which 1947 represents, continuities that help to explain many of the region's current predicaments. One aim of this module, as of 'Modern India II' is to move away from this illusory divide, and to show the necessity of an historical perspective if we wish to understand the politics of modern-day India.

The module examines the nature of pre-colonial power, the ideologies and practices of colonial rule, and the responses this elicited among Indians. It traces the shifting structures of the colonial state in India and asks whether colonialism created a new kind of public space. It examines the rise of nationalism, and the emergence of Gandhi's redefinition of nationalism as a non-violent movement based on mass mobilization; it studies the processes that led to Partition along religious lines; it considers the transformation of social institutions such as caste, and the emergence of India and of 'South Asia' as geographical and analytical spaces.

Staff information

Not applicable

Teaching pattern

10 x 2-hour weekly seminars

Module assessment - more information

1 essay x 4,000 words

Key information

Module code 7YYI0001

Credit level 7

Assessment coursework

Credit value 20

Semester Semester 1 (autumn)

Study abroad module Yes