South & Southeast Asia



ASCL 51.01 /REL 9 Hinduism

An introductory survey of the Hindu religious tradition of South Asia from 1500 B.C.E. down to the present day. Emphasis will be given to the historical development of elite, Sanskritic Hinduism and its constant interaction with popular and local traditions.

  • Dist: TMV; WCult: NW
  • Ohnuma

ASCL 51.03/REL 18 Indian Buddhism

An introductory survey of the Buddhism of South Asia from its beginnings in the 6th century B.C.E. to its eventual demise in the 12th century C.E. Emphasis will be given to the major beliefs, practices, and institutions characteristic of Indian Buddhism, the development of its different varieties (Hinayana, Mahayana, and Vajrayana), and its impact upon South Asian civilization at large.

  • Dist: TMV; WCult: NW
  • Ohnuma

ASCL 51.04/REL 41.05 Tibetan Buddhism

An introductory survey of Buddhism in Tibet from its inception in the 8th century until the present day. Emphasis will be given to the central doctrines, practices, and institutions characteristic of Tibetan Buddhism, its development of various popular and elite religious ideals (householder, nun, monk, scholar, solitary hermit, crazy yogi, and female dakini), and its evolving identity in the West. Open to all.

  • Dist: TMV; WCult: NW
  • Seton

ASCL 51.05/REL 2.01 Religions of Southeast Asia

This introductory course surveys religion in Southeast Asian contexts. We begin by analyzing the terms "Religion" and "Southeast Asia" as products of global politics. Then, we examine contemporary case studies from seven Southeast Asian countries to explore how religions shape local communities and life experiences. Our course materials lead us to investigate how Spirit Religions, Buddhism, Daoism, Christianity, and Islam intersect and inform understandings of embodiment, health, power, nature, and death. Open to all.

  • Dist: TMV; WCult: NW
  • Swenson

ASCL 51.06/REL 41.07 Buddhism, Sexuality, & Gender in Southeast Asia

This intermediate-level course explores how Buddhist concepts of embodiment affect daily life and society in Southeast Asian contexts. We will also consider how cultural understandings of gender and sexuality influence local religious practices in the Buddhist-majority countries of Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Myanmar. Our materials will lead us to analyze how religion, sexuality, and gender intersect with one another, as well as how these intersections impact broader understandings of authority, wisdom, beauty, death, and loyalty.

  • Dist: TMV; WCult: NW
  • Swenson

ASCL 51.07 / REL 40.01 Gods, Demons, and Monkeys: The Ramayana Epic of India

The ancient Indian epic known as the Ramayana is a stirring, martial tale of gods, demons, and monkeys. Beginning with the classical Sanskrit version composed as early as 200 B.C.E., India has produced hundreds of different versions of the Ramayana, in different languages and media, with different agendas and for different audiences. We will examine this epic tradition in all of its complexity, making ample use of different forms of media.

  • Dist: TMV; WCult: NW
  • Ohnuma

ASCL 51.08 / REL 41.08 Buddhist Philosophy

Buddhists see philosophy not just as a study of reality or the meaning of life, but as a useful step in overcoming all forms of suffering and realizing the existential happiness of a buddha. This course will provide an introductory survey of the four main Indian Buddhist philosophical schools; highlight the differences in their phenomenology, onto-epistemology, and ethics; and explore their views on the nature of consciousness, identity, perception, wisdom, and happiness. It will also touch upon Buddhist dialectical reasoning and analytical meditations aimed at developing insight into the nature of mind and its lifeworld.

  • Dist: TMV; WCult: NW
  • Seton

ASCL 51.10 / REL 41.01 Mahayana Buddhist Texts

An in-depth, discussion-based exploration of the rich, imaginative world of Mahayana Buddhist literature, including both philosophical treatises and religious scriptures (including the Heart, Diamond, Lotus, and Vimalakirti Sutras). Open to all classes.

  • Dist: TMV
  • Ohnuma

ASCL 51.11 / REL 02.02 Religions of Vietnam (pending cross-list approval)

  • Dist: INT or TMV; WCult: NW
  • Swenson


ASCL 52.01/ MUS 17.02 Music and Dance of North India

This experimental interdisciplinary course explores traditional North Indian (Hindustani) music and dance as both an artistic practice and a cultural system. Course work combines regular group lessons on the tabla—the principal percussion instrument in the performance of Hindustani raga—with weekly reading, listening, and viewing assignments focusing on Indian music theory, history, and aesthetics. Visiting artists will demonstrate the central dance, instrumental, and vocal forms of Hindustani performing arts. No prior musical experience required.

  • Dist: ART; WCult: NW
  • Das & Levin

ASCL 52.02 / ARTH 34.01 Arts of Tibet: Sacred Abode of the Himalayas

This course surveys the art and culture of Tibet from the time of the introduction of Buddhism in the seventh century to the modern period. Traditionally understood as the divine abode of Avalokitesvara, the bodhisattva who embodies the compassion of all buddha in Buddhist cosmology, Tibet was also fantasized as the immortal realm of "Shangri-la" by western interpreters. In this course, we will begin by examining the imagination and representation of Tibet and its culture in modern western discourses, and then shift the focus to the development of artistic forms of Tibet in the context of Tibet's history and religious movements, from ancient times to the present.

  • Dist: ART; WCult: NW
  • Yin

ASCL 52.03 / ARTH 31.01 Arts of South Asia (pending cross-list approval)


  • Dist: ART; WCult: NW
  • Agarwala


ASCL 53.02 / COLT 62.11 Imagining Freedom: Literature and Cinema of Decolonization in South Asia

The twentieth century witnessed global struggles against Euro-American colonization across Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean worlds. Decolonization, or the process through which previously colonized nations became free of their imperial rulers, was at once a political, social, cultural, and psychological phenomenon. Not only did anti colonial struggles challenge colonial domination, they also envisioned heterogenous imaginaries of "freedom" that would shape their futures for years to come. Freedom was never a static idea. In international conferences like those of the Afro-Asian Writers Association, previously colonized people vigorously debated the meanings and visions of freedom for postcolonial futures. Women, workers, and indigenous subjects drew attention to the gaps in national independence that prioritized certain hegemonic voices over others. Moreover, debates on what constituted "freedom" under decolonization were also shaped by the geopolitical and cultural politics of the global Cold War.

What became of these global imaginaries of hope and dissent, and what lessons do they offer us today? This course will look at how art, cinema, and literary writing shaped conceptions of freedom in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Taking the case of the Indian subcontinent, the course will introduce students to the work of literary figures like Ismat Chughtai, Mahasweta Devi, Namdeo Dhasal, and R.K. Narayan, avante-garde artists like M.F. Hussain and Akbar Padamsee, and filmmakers like Mani Ratnam and Syed Akbar Mirza. While learning about transnational literary and artistic movements like the Progressive Writers' Association, the Dalit Panthers, the Bombay Progressive Artists Group, Parallel Cinema and Bollywood, students will take away an expansive and historically informed idea of what it means to be free today in our interconnected world.

Note: While many of the texts are originally in English, those in vernacular languages like Marathi, Urdu, Bengali, or Hindi will be offered in English translation. No knowledge of these languages is a requirement. For the course.

  • Dist: LIT, WCult: NW
  • Singh


ASCL 54.04 / HIST 92.04 Partition in South Asia

In the years leading to 1947, nationalist activism against the British and tensions between Hindus and Muslims escalated in the Indian subcontinent. This culminated in Partition and the emergence of the nations of India and Pakistan. Independence was marred, however, by the bloodshed accompanying the mass movements of Muslims into Pakistan and Hindus into India. What were the factors leading to this juxtaposition of triumphal Independence with shameful Partition? What were the implications of Partition for ordinary people? How have memories of Partition continued to affect powerfully politics and culture in the subcontinent? This seminar investigates such questions using a wide variety of materials including films, memoir, fiction, and scholarly works. This course follows recent scholarship in focusing on the long-term implications of Partition for the subcontinent. Hence, while we certainly will investigate the events leading up to Partition, our emphasis will be on understanding the effects of Partition on the lives of ordinary people during and after.

  • Dist: INT, SOC, WCult: NW
  • Kapur

ASCL 54.07/HIST 75/AAAS 50 /ENVS 45 Colonialism, Development, and the Environment in Africa and Asia

This course examines the environmental history of Africa and Asia, focusing on the period of European colonialism and its aftermath. Topics include deforestation and desertification under colonial rule; imperialism and conservation; the consequences of environmental change for rural Africans and Asians; irrigation, big dams and transformations in water landscapes; the development of national parks and their impact on wildlife and humans; the environmentalism of the poor; urbanization and pollution; and global climate change in Africa and Asia. Open to all classes.

  • Dist: INT or SOC, WCult: NW
  • Zeinstra

ASCL 54.08/HIST 76 From Colonial India to Post-Independence South Asia

This course examines the history of modern South Asia (focusing on the nations of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh) from the eighteenth century to the present. Key themes include: the character of British colonialism and its impact on Indian society; cultural change and the "invention" of new religious and caste identities; the Indian middle class; the emergence of the Indian national movement under Mahatma Gandhi; Partition in 1947 and Partition violence; and post-independence South Asian politics and economy.

  • Dist: INT or SOC, WCult: CI
  • ASCL Faculty

ASCL 54.09/HIST 26 The Vietnam War

This course examines the conflict which Americans call "The Vietnam War" as a major event in the 20th century histories of both the United States and Vietnam. In addition to exploring the key decisions made by U.S. and Vietnamese leaders, students will also learn about the experiences of ordinary soldiers and civilians. This course incorporates multiple American and Vietnamese sources and perspectives, and also investigates multiple explanations of the war's origins and outcome. Open to all classes.

  • Dist: INT or SOC, WCult: WC
  • Miller

ASCL 54.10 / HIST 90.09 Global South Asia

  • DIST: SOC, WCult: NW
  • Kapur

ASCL 54.11/HIST 5.11 Gandhi, 20th Century India and the World

This course explores the history of modern India through the figure of Mahatma Gandhi. After exploring early developments in Gandhi's life and his philosophy of non-violence, we will examine the role of Gandhi and of his image in major political developments in India. We will also take up many key issues relating to Gandhian thought, including Hindu-Muslim relations, caste, gender and sexuality, and social equality. Finally, we will discuss Gandhi's legacy in India and globally.

  • DIST: INT or SOC, WCult: NW
  • Carson

ASCL 54.12/HIST 90.15 State and Society in Early Modern India, 1500-1800

This course surveys historical developments in what are now the modern nation states of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries. Students will explore South Asian society, culture, and religion in the broader context of state-formation and empire-building. We will examine the makings of the Mughal Empire, one of the most influential states in the subcontinent's history, its predecessors, successors, and rivals, as well as its complex and contested legacy. The Taj Mahal stands as a powerful example of both Mughal imperial achievement and continuing controversy about early modern pasts. Moreover, this course will emphasize the makings of Islam in India, Persianate political and literary culture, as well as early modern commerce and politics.

  • Dist: SOC; WCult: NW
  • Kapur


ASCL 55.01/ANTH 32 Anthropology of Tibet and the Himalayas

This course introduces students to the peoples and cultures of Tibet and the greater Himalayan region (Nepal, northern India, Bhutan). We examine the cultural, ecological, political, religious, and economic interfaces that define life on the northern and southern slopes of Earth's greatest mountain range. In addition to learning about Himalayan and Tibetan lifeways, we will also learn about how these mountainous parts of Asia have figured into occidental imaginings, from the earliest adventurers to contemporary travelers.

  • Dist: SOC; WCult: NW
  • Craig




ASCL 59.04 Intensive Foreign Study in Vietnam

This interdisciplinary course is the second required component of the foreign study program "Developing Vietnam", exploring the contemporary history, society and culture of Vietnam. This course, held during Dartmouth's December "winterim" period, consists of three weeks of intensive and immersive learning in Ho Chi Minh City. Students live and study at a partner university in Vietnam and complete their group research project (begun during the fall term in ASCL 70.22) on some aspect of development in contemporary Vietnam.

ASCL 59.04 counts towards the IITD (Interdisciplinary, Interregional, Transnational & Diasporal Courses) requirements for the major or minor. ASCL 50.94 is paired with a course taught in the fall term, ASCL 70.22, as a required part of the "DevelopingVietnam" foreign study program.

  • Dist: SOC; WCult: NW
  • Miller

ASCL 70.22 Developing Vietnam: History, Environment, and Culture

This interdisciplinary course explores the history, society, and culture of Vietnam, with particular attention to the theme of development in Vietnam since the 1980s. It is part of a teaching and learning partnership between Dartmouth and Fulbright University Vietnam, a Vietnamese liberal arts university in Ho Chi Minh City. Throughout the term, Dartmouth and Fulbright students will interact and co-learn with each other via online discussions, collaborative assignments, and a small group research project.

ASCL 70.22 counts towards the IITD (Interdisciplinary, Interregional, Transnational & Diasporal Courses) requirements for the major or minor. ASCL 70.22 is paired with a course taught in winterim, ASCL 59.04, as a required part of the "Developing Vietnam" foreign study program.

  • Dist: SOC; WCult: NW
  • Miller

ASCL 63.01/ANTH 45 Asian Medical Systems

This course investigates systems of healing practiced in, and derived from, Asia. We will focus primarily on three Asian medical systems: Ayurveda, Chinese medicine, and Tibetan medicine. We will strive to understand how these medical systems are based on coherent logics that are not only biologically but also culturally determined. We will also analyze the deployment of these medical systems in non-Asian contexts and examine the relationship between Asian systems and "western" biomedicine.

  • Dist:SOC; WCult:NW
  • Craig