South Asia Studies

The Indus River Valley civilization (3300-1300 BCE), situated in what is now Pakistan, was one of the world's great ancient civilizations. Today, the South Asian subcontinent, the region that stretches from Afghanistan through Pakistan and India to Bangladesh (and onto Northeast India) and from Nepal and Bhutan in the Himalayas to Sri Lanka and the Maldives in the Indian Ocean, is known as South Asia.  Governments of these eight countries comprise the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation. South Asia Studies is the study of this region, its cultures, languages, and people, including in the South Asian diaspora.

South Asia has contributed richly to the arts, humanities, and social, political, and religious thought of the world. The South Asian subcontinent has produced a large body of knowledge on artistic, linguistic, and literary practices; on varieties of imperialism; on the social construction of political and religious identities; on the intersections of economics, ethnicity, gender; and on conflict and peace.

South Asia Studies at Wellesley

With 14 faculty who have research and teaching commitments in South Asia, across eleven departments and programs, we are able to ensure that each student benefits from a unique, well-designed course of study.

We consider South Asia Studies to be an ideal liberal arts concentration because the subjects of inquiry are complex and challenging and because the methods of inquiry are necessarily interdisciplinary. Students learn to think multi-contextually and at the intersection of disciplines. Students also learn different ways of knowing. For centuries, South Asia has developed its own ways of knowing. The South Asia Studies Program allows students to learn both European and South Asian epistemologies. At the same time, students are required to focus on a single method, such as literary analysis, or a single thematic focus, such as international development. Students learn intercultural skills, including how to communicate in South Asian languages.

Individual courses aim to engage students in rigorous encounters with a crucial but underrepresented area of the world. Majors and minors develop facility in aesthetic judgment; linguistic, historical and literary interpretation; and behavior and social analysis.  

We expect each student to gain broad understanding of the cultures, histories, religions, societies, and politics of the region and to gain skills in the ability to speak and comprehend, and to write and read in Hindi and Urdu, two of South Asia's principal languages, or in another South Asian language. We expect students to acquire skills and sentiments needed to understand South Asian arts, cultures, histories, and politics. The South Asia Studies Program works to develop in students the skills to become critical thinkers, cogent writers, and effective researchers on a range of vital questions using the fertile fields of South Asia for evidence and inspiration.

Designing a Program of Study

If you are considering declaring a major or minor in South Asia Studies, please speak with the director of the program or one of the South Asia Studies affiliated facultyThey can apprise you of upcoming courses and other learning opportunities and help you to design a study plan that best meets your learning objectives.  

The Curriculum

In addition to the courses offered by South Asia Studies faculty, almost fifty South Asia Studies related courses can be used to satisfy major and minor requirements. These are offered by faculty in eleven departments and programs. Also, many courses that are not designated as SAS related courses can be used to satisfy SAS major and minor requirements if the instructor agrees and the student's final project pertains to South Asia Studies. 

South Asia Studies and South Asian Studies related courses offered in 2022-23

FALL 2022

CAMS 243 / REL 223 / SAS 243

Shades of Love in Indian Cinema

1.0

HIST 266 / SAS 266       

The Indian Ocean as African, Arab, and South Asian History 

1.0

HIST 367 / SAS 367

The Indian Ocean as African, Arab, and South Asian History 

1.0

HNUR 101

Introductory Hindi-Urdu

1.0

HNUR 201 

Intermediate Hindi-Urdu

1.0

MES 267 / REL 267*

Muslim Ethics

1.0

MES 347 / REL 347*

Muslim Ethics

1.0

REL 108*

Introduction to Asian Religions

1.0

REL 253*

Buddhist Thought and Practice

1.0

SAS 301 / REL 301

Seminar: Religion in Modern South Asia

1.0

 

SPRING 2023

ANTH 237 / SAS 237 

Ethnography in/of South Asia

1.0

HNUR 102

Introductory Hindi-Urdu

1.0

HNUR 202

Intermediate Hindi-Urdu

1.0

MES 261 / REL 261*

Cities in the Islamic World

1.0

MES 365 / REL 365*

Cities in the Islamic World

1.0

MUS 227 / REL 227

Sacred Sounds of South Asia

1.0

POL3 223

International Relations of South Asia

1.0

SAS 232 / SOC 232

South Asian Diasporas

1.0

SAS 302 / REL 302

Traditional Narratives of South Asia

1.0

Courses with an asterisk ( * ) require permission of the instructor(s) and South Asia Studies Program director to count toward the South Asia Studies major or minor; they normally require a final paper related to South Asia Studies.