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Syllabus Politics and Conflict in South Asia 2012(1)

Syllabus Politics and Conflict in South Asia 2012(1) -...

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Politics and Conflict in South Asia Spring Semester, 2012 IAFF 3186 Section 10 Wednesday, 7:10 – 9:40 pm Phillips Hall Room 111 Professor: John R. Schmidt Telephone: (703) 909-7444 Email: [email protected] and [email protected] Office: 1957 E Street Suite 604-D Office Hours: Wednesday 5:15-7:00 pm COURSE DESCRIPTION This course examines politics and conflict in one of the most fascinating and important geopolitical regions on earth, from its ancient beginnings to the present time. South Asia is home to India, the largest democracy in the world, armed with nuclear weapons, whose vibrant economy is shaping it into a major world power while much of its population continues to live in grinding poverty. South Asia is also home to Pakistan, plagued by weak governments and Army coups, armed with nuclear weapons of its own, regarding India as its mortal enemy and beset by a growing array of radical Islamic forces that are steadily eroding the stability of the state. The other three countries in the region--Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal--do not cut such large figures on the international stage but are fascinating polities in their own right. Bangladesh possesses one of the most combative political cultures in the world, Sri Lanka is just emerging from a long and violent ethnic civil war, and Nepal has recently overthrown its monarchy and elected a government led by a formerly insurgent political movement that calls itself Maoist. Since it is difficult to understand the present without some feel for the past, we will begin our journey with a broad survey of the history and cultural roots of South Asia from ancient Hindu times, through the Mogul period, transitioning into the British Raj and the growing movement for independence. Our treatment of individual countries, their history and political cultures will begin with the achievement of independence and partition of the British Raj in 1947 (except for Sri Lanka and Nepal, of course, whose histories are somewhat different). Since the presence of Al Qaeda and Taliban forces in Pakistan have a direct effect on U.S. and Western interests, we will spend considerable time discussing the radical Islamic threat to the region, including the role that India-Pakistan enmity has played in giving rise to it. Our examination of Pakistan will also include a discussion of events in
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Afghanistan, since it is impossible to discuss recent events in the one country without taking cognizance of the other. LEARNING OUTCOMES Students will become familiar with the key events in South Asian history from ancient times to the present. Students will develop an appreciation of the British colonial impact on South Asia and the key factors and events that led to independence and the partition of the subcontinent.
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