South Asia

Roundtable Session

160 - South Asian Studies in Motion: Coming to Terms with Area Studies in a Global Curriculum

7/7/2018
4:30 PM - 6:00 PM
Location: Gulmohar, First Floor

How do we address shifting ideas about South Asia, and area studies in general, in the contemporary classroom? This Roundtable draws from models of interaction that we have practiced for a long time in South Asian Studies scholarship to talk about the challenges we face in pedagogy. While scholarship on India is regularly shared across continents and institutions, our teaching methods, often follow different trajectories determined by composition of the student body, the culture of an institution, or trends in pedagogy. However, as global issues — from climate change to cultural and capital flows — are increasingly entering the classroom, we see the need to generate greater dialogue across geographical locations about how best to teach about India in the world.  

This Roundtable — drawing from five disciplines — addresses contemporary trends in academic discourse, such as “Globalization,” “Transnationalism,” and “Comparative Studies," that influence how we construct our courses. It has four objectives: 1) to discuss the changing role of area studies in different disciplines 2) to present specific challenges that discussants face in teaching, 3) to look forward to new ways to collaborate on pedagogy across disciplines and geographic locations, and 4) to incorporate the audience in this conversation.  

Specifically, Wendy Singer will address how teaching primary sources of history in translation lends itself to confronting the transnationalism of sources themselves. Meena Khandelwal, an anthropologist, will talk about the critical importance of South-South comparisons as a way to get students outside their common intellectual prejudices. Rina Williams will address the contested place of area studies within political science and, nevertheless, how global/transnational approaches can be taught despite “the nation” remaining the fundamental unit of analysis. Shuchi Kapila will talk about what it means for literary studies and cultural ‘memory’ when narratives are constituted across a national/transnational frame. And Sudarsan Padmanabhan will discuss the significance of teaching South Asia-in-a-global-context to Indian students, who see India at once as subject of analysis and as lived experience.

As Padmanabhan suggests, India may provide an especially valuable vantage to have this discussion of global pedagogy because we can build on existing models of scholarly interaction and turn our focus to the classroom.

Wendy Singer

Kenyon College, United States

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Wendy Singer

Kenyon College, United States

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Meena Khandelwal

University of Iowa, United States

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Sudarsan Padmanabhan

Indian Institute of Technology Madras, India

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Shuchi Kapila

Grinnell College, United States

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