Not available in 2019/20
AN250      Half Unit
The Anthropology of South Asia

This information is for the 2019/20 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Mukulika Banerjee OLD 5.09


This course is available on the BA in Anthropology and Law, BA in Social Anthropology and BSc in Social Anthropology. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit and to General Course students.


You are required to be enrolled in a course at LSE in which you are trained to write essays and read qualitative research.

Course content

This course will aim to address issues of citizenship, inequality and social justice, religious faith and practices, migration and labour and consumption patterns in rural and urban South Asia. The course will cover both classic and current literature and weekly sessions will be organised thematically. We will start by looking at the history of South Asia's democracies and consider the challenges posed to them. South Asia is an ideal setting to examine many paradoxes that exist elsewhere - alongside some of the highest rates of economic growth there is growing inequality, there is a growing middle class but high rates of precarious poverty,  the countries remain largely rural yet they will hold the largest urban population in the world in less than ten years and so on. In order to understand these paradoxes, it is essential that issues of macro economic policy, social inequality, infrastructural development, political mobilisation and popular culture,  mobilisation along religious lines in each country and the rise of the 'threatened majorities' that behave like minority populations - be examined in greater detail.  Using a rich body of anthropological research on South Asia, this course will examine several of these issues and more in this course. The literature on India is the largest available but every attempt will be made to cover the anthropological literature on Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh alongside.


10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the LT. 1 hour of lectures in the ST.

Attendance at film screenings will be an essential element in the course and will be scheduled on a weekday evening (3 hours) at the start of term. One revision session in ST. There will be a reading week in Week 6 of the LT.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 essay in the LT.

Indicative reading

Please read at least TWO of the following background readings before the start of the course and certainly by the end of the second week of the course: Sunil Khilnani, The Idea of India; Ramachandra Guha, India After Gandhi; Corbridge, S. and Harris, J. 2000, Reinventing India: Liberalization, Hindu Politics and Popular Democracy. London: Polity Press; Rana Dasgupta Capital.

Fiction: Vikram Seth, A Suitable Boy; Rohington Mistry, A Fine Balance

You will required to present your thoughts on the background readings you have done in Week 2 class/seminar.


Take home exam (100%) in April.

Key facts

Department: Anthropology

Total students 2018/19: 6

Average class size 2018/19: 3

Capped 2018/19: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information