South Asia-which comprises eight different countries (India, Pakistan,Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal,
Bhutan, and the Maldives)-is home to over one-fifth of the world's population, much of it living in abject poverty.
The region contains a bewildering number of ethnic groups that are based on the multidimensional mixture of
various linguistic, religious, sub-regional, cultural, and tribal identities. The departing colonial powers, especially
the British in 1947, largely defined the political demarcations (e.g., borders) between the various emerging
countries in the region. The demarcation of these political boundaries left some ethnic groups residing among
others in newly independent multiethnic states; whereas others became divided between countries across
boundaries in the post-colonial set-up. This course seeks to examine the interplay between identity, politics,
and violence in contemporary South Asia. The course starts by providing the analytical/theoretical lens
through which to analyze political violence and the underpinning of the modern state in South Asia.
It subsequently, analyzes the major cases of identity-based political violence-ranging from ethnic
separatist insurgency and challenges to state authority to communal violence and ethnic conflict-in South Asia.
The primary goal of this course is to provide students with a critical understanding of these phenomena in the
South Asian context, and to spark intellectual curiosity for future
comparative and area-studies research.