The Rumor of India
This course explores the sociology of modern India by looking at it from three distinct perspectives. First, we start by cracking open iconic Western and, even more specifically, American representations of India such as Mother Teresa, the Mahatma Gandhi, transcendental meditation, the Hari Krishna movement and different forms of both South Asian and American yoga. Then, we shift our gaze to India itself to put these stories and images back in their geographical context. Here we will dig deep into modern Indian popular culture with a specific focus on South Asian literature, cinema and television looking historically over four generations. We will also learn the conversational basics of three languages, Hindi, Telugu and Urdu, to understand the dramatic socio-geographical differences in this sub-continent, as well as about the recent television-documentary smash and social phenomena Satyamev Jayate. Finally, we will track down all the places South Asians have migrated and immigrated over the past century zeroing in first on Africa and the Middle East and then later, the UK, Australia, Canada and finally, the United States. This will include a special lecture on the Muslim peace activist Badshah Khan and field trips to the South Asian settlements of New York City where brand new forms of South Asian-American culture are being created, which have only the faintest connection to South Asia itself. The instructor for this course has lived and done ethnographic field research in South Asia for nearly 20 years; held several American Institute of Indian Studies and Foreign Language Studies fellowships; worked as an advisor to the University of Wisconsin-Madison's College Year In India Program; was on the South Asian Studies faculty for the University of Virginia's Semester At Sea Program in the Spring of 2010; has done extensive graduate level work in South Asian languages and literature.