Certificates: South Asia Studies
Pre-modern India is often conceived as the epitome of the Mystic East, a timeless land of fabulously rich maharajas, massive war elephants, sinister yogis, and powerful courtesans. Well, it turns out that pre-modern India did have all these things, and much more besides. But India was never timeless. This course examines the major patterns and transformations that defined South Asian society in the four centuries preceding the rise of formal British imperialism in 1858, focusing in particular on such themes as war and military service; asceticism and devotionalism; the jungle and human-animal relations; statecraft and kingship; trade, pilgrimage, and travel; cross-cultural encounter; physical culture and sexuality; poetry and performance traditions; information networks, spying, and court intrigue.