Spring 2022

South Asia in the World until 1800 CE

Listed in: Asian Languages and Civilizations, as ASLC-173  |  History, as HIST-173


Mekhola S. Gomes (Section 01)


(Offered as HIST 173 [AS/TC/TE/TR/TS/P/C] and ASLC 173 [SA])

This course introduces students to the histories and cultures of South Asia until 1800 CE as part of critical world history. There is increasing awareness amongst scholars that in order to understand the languages, histories, religions, and cultures of one of the most diverse regions of the world comprising the modern nation-states of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, we need to understand South Asia in the world. This course challenges the notion of a static and singular South Asia to explore how understandings of this region are transformed when studied as part of the world connected through travel, exchange, trade, and movement. We will study the history of South Asia from the earliest times until the arrival of Portuguese traders and travellers to the region and analyze a range of sources including documentaries, paintings, seals, inscriptions, sculptural reliefs, and travelogues. We will place these sources alongside the writings of scholars who have used different approaches to understand the history of South Asia. Throughout the course, we will pay attention to the specific history of South Asia understood through the movement of pilgrims, traders, rulers, and scholars that bound diverse worlds together. Ultimately, we will see how placing the history of South Asia in conversation with histories of different places in the world deepens and widens our understanding of the world at large until 1800 CE.

Two meetings per week.

Spring semester. Professor Gomes.

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: Close analysis of historical evidence, which may include written documents, images, music, films, and archaeological evidence from history and cultures of South Asia. Introduction to interdisciplinary methods to study the history of South Asia including epigraphy, philology, art history, and archaeology. Engagement with distinctive methods, questions, and approaches to South Asian history not as an isolated region but rather as part of critical world history. Extensive reading, varying forms of written work, and intensive in-class discussions. Students with documented disabilities who will require accommodations in this course should be in consultation with Accessibility Services and reach out to the faculty member as soon as possible to ensure that accommodations can be made in a timely manner.

This is preliminary information about books for this course. Please contact your instructor or the Academic Coordinator for the department, before attempting to purchase these books.

ISBN Title Publisher Author(s) Comment Book Store Price
The Penguin history of early India : from the origins to AD 1300 London : Penguin, 2003 Romila Thapar Amherst Books TBD
A history of ancient and early medieval India : from the Stone Age to the 12th century New Delhi ; Upper Saddle River, NJ : Pearson Education, ©2009 Upinder Singh Amherst Books TBD

These books are available locally at Amherst Books.


2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022