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Religion Seminar: Hindu and Muslims in South Asia
Instructor: Supriya Gandhi
Department of Religion
Haverford College
Spring 2010
Course Description:
This seminar examines engagements between Hindu and Muslim traditions in South Asia from
medieval to modern times. Introduces historical case studies of Hindu-Muslim relations and formation
of religious identities alongside the ways in which these are contested and constructed in
modern discourses on religion and politics. Interrogates the analytical categories of conquest,
iconoclasm, conversion and syncretism, around which several current debates on Hindu-Muslim
relations are framed. Topics explored include the interaction of Sufi, Bhakti and Yogic traditions,
Mughal religious cultures; the impact of colonialism on religious identities and sectarian
relations; the partition of India and creation of Pakistan; Indian and Pakistani nationalist historiographies;
secularism and Hindutva ideologies in modern India.
Course Design:
This seminar is designed as a forum to critically discuss and analyze issues raised by the material.
Active participation and attendance are required. Readings will comprise between 100-150
pages per week. Each week students will post onto blackboard a 1-2 paragraph response to the
material. During the semester, each student will be responsible for a 10-15 minute presentation
to the class, on one of the assigned readings. Additionally, in the beginning of the semester there
will be a short take-home quiz on the history and geography of South Asia. Throughout the semester
three films will be screened, which help to add a broader context to the material. Students
will chose one film, from those screened, to analyze in a film review of 5-6 pages. Finally, over
the course of the semester, students will develop a 15 page research paper. Topics for the final
project will be submitted the week after spring break.
Participation 15%
Journal Posting 20%
Take-home quiz 10%
Film Review 20%
Research Paper 35%
Main Readings:
Richard Eaton, The Rise of Islam and the Bengal Frontier (1204-1760).
Carl W. Ernst, �Historiographies of Islam in India� in Eternal Garden.
Richard H. Davis, Lives of Indian Images.
John Stratton Hawley and Mark Juergensmeyer, Songs of the Saints of India.
Yohanan Friedmann, �The Temple of Multan: A Note on Early Muslim Attitudes to Idolatry,�
Israel Oriental Studies.
Peter Gottschalk, �Mapping Muslims,� in Imtiaz Ahmad and Helmut Reifeld (eds.), Lived Islam
in South Asia: Adaptation, Accommodation, and Conflict.
Richard King, Orientalism and Religion: Postcolonial Theory.
James Laine, Shivaji: Hindu King in Islamic India.
I.H. Qureshi, The Muslim Community of the Indo-Pak Subcontinent (610-1947).
Brian K. Pennington, Was Hinduism Invented? Britons, Indians, and the Colonial Construction
of Religion.
Tony K. Stewart, �In Search of Equivalence: Conceiving the Muslim-Hindu Encounter Through
Translation Theory,� in India�s Islamic Traditions, ed. Richard Eaton.
Anand Patwardhan, In the Name of God.
Ashutosh Gowarikar, Jodha-Akbar.
Shabnam Virmani, Had-Anhad (Bounded-Boundless).
Course Outline:
Unit One: Methodologies
Week 1: Introduction to major issues in the study of religions in South Asia.
Week 2: Constructions of Islam and Hinduism in South Asia
Week 3: Nationalist ideologies and historiographies.
Unit Two: Framing Categories
Week 4: Conquest *Take-home Quiz Due*
Week 5: Iconoclasm
Week 6: Babri Masjid / Ram Janmabhoomi: Past and Present
*Film Screening: In the Name of God*
Week 7: Conversion
Unit Three: Questioning Boundaries
Week 8: Bhakti, and Sufism, Kabir
* Film Screening: Had-Anhad (Bounded-Boundless)*
Week 9: Bhakti, Surdas, Tulsidas, Premakhyans, Padmavat
Unit Four: Mughal Religious Cultures
Week 10: Akbar�s India
*Film Screening: Jodha-Akbar*
Week 11: Mughal Ramayana and Mahabharata translations
*Visit to Philadelphia Museum of Art*
Week 12: �Good� Mughals versus �Bad� Mughals?�Dara Shikoh and Aurangzeb
Week 13: Hindu rulers in Islamicate India: The case of Shivaji
Unit Five: Modernities
Week 13: Colonial Encounters
Week 14: The partition of India and the creation of Pakistan