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History 60U: Religion and Politics: India, 1800-2015


Undergraduate Seminar

Instructor: Mou Banerjee (, Former SAI Graduate Student Associate

Fall 2015, Tuesdays: 2-4 PM

Course site

Course objectives:

  1. This course is a historical introduction to the role of religious faith in shaping political identity and political consciousness in the public sphere in India. We shall study the evolution of modern South Asia’s intricate relationship to religion and secularism, through close readings of primary sources and relevant historiographical and theoretical literature.
  2. By exploring the interactions between Christianity, Hinduism and Islam, we shall examine how such encounters and debates, in relation to the realities of colonial rule, shaped a modern discourse on personal identity which has had a lasting impact on legal and political practice in the South Asian subcontinent.
  3. The course focuses on nineteenth and early twentieth century debates on the role of religion in the modern colonial and future nation-state. It concludes with a survey of contemporary critiques of secularism, conversion, citizenship, and the use of religious faith to incite political violence against minorities.