75725 - Intellectual History of Modern and Contemporary India (1) (LM)

Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2018/2019

Learning outcomes

After completing the course, students acquire higher level knowledge about intellectual transformations and the history of South Asian thought in modern and contemporary times, notably in the colonial and post-colonial periods. Students will know in detail the issues of religious and social reform and will be able to recognize the main theoretical positions emerging in the contemporary debate on the historiographical and anthropological representation of the development of Indian society. Students will also gain the ability to properly communicate (in writing and orally) the content learned, with reference to relevant literature and on the basis of more autonomous and original studies.

Course contents

The course aims to provide students with the notions (in the fields of Indology, History, Religious Studies and  Anthropology) indispensable for critically analyzing the processes of construction and representation of collective identities in colonial and post-colonial South Asia.

PROGRAM: [Please note that Indian terms are written without the usual diacritical].

The course is divided into two parts.

First part: Discourse on religion and religious conflicts in colonial and postcolonial India.

Dharma and religion in colonial India. The paradigm of religious and social reform. Centrality of the discourse on religion. New canonizations of ancient texts: the Upanishads, the Vedas, the Puranas and the Bhagavadgita. From religious modernization to the assertion of cultural superiority of Hinduism: Bankim, Tilak, Vivekananda, Aurobindo. Universalism, tolerance, inclusivism in the representation of Neo-hinduism. Religious truth and secularism in the thought of Gandhi. Savarkar and the ideology of Hindutva. Religions in the Constitution of the Indian Union. Exit from Hinduism: the case of Ambedkar. Communal clashes and religious fundamentalism in contemporary India.

Second Part: Representations of social marginality in contemporary South Asia: Anthropology, History, Fiction.

Tribals, Dalits, peasants, "subalterns" in contemporary India. The Subaltern Studies and the debate on historiography. The criticism of "secularism". Tales of marginalization and oppression: the ethical and political stories of Mahasweta Devi.

Readings/Bibliography

Please note:
Students who are not familiar with Indology should read the text of Giorgio R. Franci, Induismo (Bologna: Il Mulino, 2000), which provides a good introduction.

Reading List for attending students:
1) Torri, Michelguglielmo, Storia dell'India, Roma-Bari: Laterza, 2000 (chapters X through XVII included and "Conclusion")

or, alternatively,

Kulke-Rothermund, Storia dell'India, tr. it. Milano: Garzanti, 1991 (chapters 6 through 8 included)

or, alternatively,

Rothermund, D., Storia dell'India, tr. it. Bologna: Il Mulino, 2007.

2) Marchignoli, S., Indagine sul dharma. Bankimchandra Chattopadhyay e il discorso sulla religione dell'India colonizzata, Bologna: Bonomo, 2015.

3) Marchignoli, S., Materiali per lo studio della controversistica religiosa nell'India coloniale. 1. Haracandra Tarkapancanana, Matapariksottaram: replica all'esame delle dottrine religiose, Bologna: Bonomo, 2015.

4) Halbfass, W., India and Europe. An Essay in Philosophical Understanding, Albany: S.U.N.Y. Press, 1988(only chapters 13 and 18).

5) Chakrabarty, D., Provincializzare l'Europa, Roma: Meltemi, 2004 [tr. it. di Provincializing Europe. Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference] (only chapter 4).

6) One paper at choice to be selected from:

Natali, C. (a cura di), Contesti etnografici dell'Asia meridionale, (vol. 5 di Molimo. Quaderni di Antropologia culturale ed Etnomusicologia), Milano: Cuem, 2010.

or, alternatively,

Berti, Daniela - Tarabout, Gilles (a cura di), Terra, territorio e società nel mondo indiano, numero monografico di «Etnosistemi», anno X, n. 10 (genn. 2003).

 

Reading list for non-attending students:

1) Torri, Michelguglielmo, Storia dell'India, Roma-Bari: Laterza, 2000 (chapters X through XVII included and "Conclusion")

or, alternatively,

Kulke-Rothermund, Storia dell'India, tr. it. Milano: Garzanti, 1991 (chapters 6 through 8 included)

or, alternatively,

Rothermund, D., Storia dell'India, tr. it. Bologna: Il Mulino, 2007.


2) Marchignoli, S., Indagine sul dharma. Bankimchandra Chattopadhyay e il discorso sulla religione dell'India colonizzata, Bologna: Bonomo, 2015.

3) Franci, G. R., Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, il ribelle indiano "nemico" di Gandhi, in Atti dell'Accademia delle scienze dell'istituto di Bologna. Classe di scienze morali. Rendicontim LXXIX, 1990-91, pp. 81-103.

4) Halbfass, W., India and Europe. An Essay in Philosophical Understanding, Albany: S.U.N.Y. Press, 1988(only chapters 13 and 18).

5) Chakrabarty, D., Provincializzare l'Europa, Roma: Meltemi, 2004 [tr. it. di Provincializing Europe. Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference] (only chapter 4).

6) One paper at choice to be selected from:

Natali, C. (a cura di), Contesti etnografici dell'Asia meridionale, (vol. 5 di Molimo. Quaderni di Antropologia culturale ed Etnomusicologia), Milano: Cuem, 2010.

or, alternatively,

Berti, Daniela - Tarabout, Gilles (a cura di), Terra, territorio e società nel mondo indiano, numero monografico di «Etnosistemi», anno X, n. 10 (genn. 2003).

 

Assessment methods

Oral examination, with a simultaneous discussion of a short paper (max. 10,000 characters) produced by the student on a topic selected in agreement with the teacher.

The exam interview starts from a brief discussion of the short essay. Two questions follow: a general one on colonial or posto-colonial history of South Asia, and a question relating to intellectual history.

Grading is based primarily on an assessment of the student's preparation, but will also take into account her/his ability of analysis and synthesis, clarity in both written and oral exposition, and use of an appropriate language and terminology.

More specifically:

  • An comprehensive vision of the topics dealt with in the course, the capacity for their critical analysis, and the use of a precise and appropriate terminology, will be evaluated with excellent to good marks;
  • A good / acceptable, but not in-depth knowledge of the subject, a limited ability in elaborating a synthesis and in producing an analysis, a use of an acceptable but not always accurate language, will be evaluated with marks ranging form mere pass level to average;
  • The lack of knowledge of the topics dealt with, the lack of preparation in elaborating analysis and synthesis, the use of inaccurate terminology and the lack of familiarity with the course bibliography, will lead to the failure to pass the examination.

This course (6 CFU), while being independent, can also be a module of the integrated course "Indian Civilisation". If the student has the integrated course (12CFU) in the study plan, the final grade will result from the arithmetic average of the marks obtained in the two components ("Religions and philosophies of India" and "Intellectual history of modern and contemporary India").

Office hours

See the website of Saverio Marchignoli