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India and the Problem of Postcolonial Democracy: A History Of Events (HI3K6)

Module Convenor: Dr Aditya Sarkar

This module seeks to introduce students to the turbulent history of Indian democracy. It will explore “a history of events”, using key moments in the history of post-Independence India as springboards for investigations of deep-rooted social, political and ideological tensions. The themes covered will be: the Communist Left and insurrectionary challenges to the Indian state; feminist mobilizations around the pervasiveness of sexual violence; anti-caste radicalism and the complex links between democracy and caste hierarchies; the rise of right-wing Hindu supremacism to its present hegemonic position in Indian life; and the authoritarian potentials of a formally democratic state. Each theme will be elaborated across a series of weeks, beginning with a dense narrative exploration of a discrete event, and broadening out subsequently to trace both the historical roots and the legacies of the events in question. These engagements will be designed to introduce students to the relationships between events, processes and contexts; as well as to the connections between micro-historical and macro-historical modes of analysis.