ASIAN 334: Race, Caste, and Religion in India and the US
About: This course looks at patterns of prejudice in a comparative study of India and the United States. It examines the relationship between Race, Caste and Religion in two very different democracies, India and the United States. To do this, in the first part of the course, we shall compare the historical struggles of two geographically disparate populations in India and the United States, namely, Indian Dalits (once known as Untouchables) and African Americans, Through this comparison we probe the language and construction of race, nation, religion, color, and ethnicity, as well as the linkages between these categories. The juxtaposition of these very different locations and histories, each with its own public and private narratives of struggle, will allow us to analyze and discuss issues at the heart of public policy agenda, such as asylum, immigration, hate crimes and citizenship. The second part of the course will look at more recent forms of racial and religious profiling related to the effects of the post 9/11 War on Terror in both India and the United States. In this way the course will introduce students to systematic patterns of intolerance and chauvinism in Europe, India and the US – hence covering both Asia and the West.
ASIAN 550: Asia and Critical Theory
About: This is the department’s graduate seminar for incoming Ph.D students. In this seminar the students are introduced to important theoretical topics and key concepts that are relevant to the comparative and critical study of Asia. Rather than focusing on a particular region, historical period, or disciplinary perspective, the course seeks to equip students with tools essential for a sophisticated and compelling analysis of a variety of regions, historical periods, and disciplinary perspectives. These tools will allow them to move more easily across the disciplines of Asian studies (and beyond) by, among other things, exploring the historical foundations of those disciplines. The syllabus offers a variety of conceptual strategies for understanding Asian cultures, pairing theoretical readings with specific Asian materials. It is our hope that students will thereby gain a purchase on critical theory and productive ways of using it in the study of cultures across national and/or disciplinary boundaries. The seminar is designed both to provide an introduction to Asian Studies as a field and to encourage the development of critical skills. Asian 550 fulfills one half of the Rackham School’s Responsible Conduct and Scholarship (RCRS) requirement.