South Asia Institute
South Asia Institute

Sumit Guha


ProfessorPh.D., History, 1981, University of Cambridge

Sumit Guha

Contact

  • Phone: 474-7236
  • Office: 2.140 GAR
  • Office Hours: Tue., 3-4 PM; Wed. 11-12 AM
  • Campus Mail Code: B7000

Biography


My education began in Italy but I completed high school in New Delhi, India. I received a BA from St. Stephen's College and an MA in History from Jawaharlal Nehru University, both in Delhi. An Inlaks Scholarship enabled me to attend the University of Cambridge and I was awarded a Ph.d. in History in 1981, then returning to teach in St. Stephen's College from 1981 to 1996 (with periods of research leave at the Centre for Development Studies, Trivandrum, the Program in Agrarian Studies, Yale University and the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, Delhi.)

From 1996 to 1999 I was Professor in the Indian Institute of Management Calcutta and moved to the USA in 2000 as S.P. Das Distinguished Professor at Brown University. In 2004 I joined the Department of History in Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey and came thence to the University of Texas at Austin in 2013.

 
I began my research as an economic historian with interests in demography and agriculture. These widened into the study of environmental and ethnic histories. My first book was The Agrarian Economy of the Bombay Deccan 181-1941 (1985) followed by Environment and Ethnicity in India, c. 1200-1991 (1999) and Health and Population in South Asia from earliest times to the present (2001).

My most recent book is Beyond Caste: Identity and Power in South Asia, Past and Present

http://brill.com/beyond-caste

Courses


ANS 384 • Language And Power

31745 • Fall 2016
Meets TH 9:30AM-12:30PM CMA 3.134
(also listed as HIS 382N)

The purpose of this course is to conduct an interdisciplinary exploration of language history, language ideology and politics in the past and present with a particular focus on South Asia in comparative Asian and global setting.

All complex human activity is constituted in and mediated by language. It has therefore, long been used to organize human interaction on every scale, from the imagined interlocutor of the soliloquy to the largest programs of making States and re-making subjects. It is as new as efforts to sanctify the status of English in the USA and as old as the first empires.

The many-layered linguistic patterns of South Asia past and present have long made it a focus for the systematic study of socio-linguistics and linguistic anthropology. South Asian materials therefore figure significantly in the readings. But it will also review English-language materials on post-colonial Latin America and Asia so as to frame South Asia in a comparative framework.

Readings will include the important works of Pierre Bourdieu and John Gumperz as well as Muzaffar Alam, Bernard Cohn, Benedict Anderson and Sheldon Pollock. Twentieth century controversies in India and Pakistan will be addressed via both primary and secondary sources.

Students may choose to take the course as either a reading or a research seminar. Students who opt to take the course as a research seminar will be allotted significant primary sources and will write a final paper analyzing those materials. But both groups will work through important secondary readings in the first eight or nine weeks of the semester. Each student will present a short response paper to each week’s reading and lead at least one class discussion. A final longer paper will also be required

ANS 361 • Struggle For Asian Democrcy

30820 • Spring 2016
Meets M 3:00PM-6:00PM GAR 0.132
(also listed as HIS 350L)

India: The struggle to build an Asian democracy, 1947-2008

HIS 350 L (38660); ANS 361 (30820). Meets Mondays 3-6 PM, GAR 0.132

Instructor: Sumit Guha

Office: GAR 2.140 Email: sguha@austin.utexas.edu

Office hours: Wed. 2-4 PM & by appointment

Description:

The republic of India was the largest of the many Asian and African states that emerged from the retreat of Western empires after 1945. It emerged in unpropitious circumstances of bloodshed and acute poverty, but has uniquely avoided both civil war and dictatorship through the decades that followed. Students in this course will explore the dangers that beset the fledgling democracy and the many efforts needed to sustain and widen it.

            This course carries a Writing Flag. Such classes meet the Core Communications objectives of Critical Thinking, Communication, Teamwork, and Personal Responsibility as established by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. Writing Flag courses are designed to improve student expertise with writing in an academic discipline, in this case, History.  This course teaches students two distinct and graduated forms of analytic writing. One is the art of reviewing: it begins with learning to summarize (present the main points of another text concisely) and is completed by learning the skill of evaluating texts in comparison with other texts.

Textbooks:

Ramachandra Guha India after Gandhi: The History of the World’s Largest Democracy. New York: Harper Collins, 2008. Paperback edition. ISBN: 9780060958589. Required

Mukulika Banerjee Why India Votes? London: Routledge 2014. ISBN 978-1-138-01971-3 Required

Other readings will be available free on Canvas, or online via the UT Library system.

Evaluation:

Attendance and participation 33%

Précis of early reading 10%.

Book Review draft and final version 22%

Final essay draft and final 35%

Points will be converted to letter grades as follows:

 

86-100=       A

70-85=         B

55-69=          C

40-54=         D

Below 40=   F

HIS 364G • Asian Bus/W Empire 1500-1940

38829 • Spring 2016
Meets MWF 11:00AM-12:00PM PAR 203
(also listed as ANS 361)

Asian business and Western empire c.1500-1940: Studies in global political economy

HIS 364G (38829)/ ANS 361 (30787)

Class meets MWF 11-12 AM, PAR 203

Instructor: Sumit Guha                                   Email: sguha@austin.utexas.edu

Office: GAR 2.140.                Office Hours: Wed. 2-4 PM & by appointment

 

Description: Asia has for centuries been a region characterized by a complex division of labor, a vibrant commerce and sophisticated financial and fiscal structures. But its external commerce – and for a time, even much of its modern industry was governed by Western firms. Yet its businessmen adapted and survived, developing hybrid types of organization as they adopted modern techniques. The course studies these efforts, looking at both successes and failures.

Objectives: (a) introduce students to the business history of Asia, showing one way that its peoples responded to the powerful challenge mounted by Europeans from the sixteenth to the twentieth century

(b) Study how economic organizations shape and are shaped by their social and institutional settings and

(c) Introduce key ideas that have shaped modern economic life

Grading policy:

There will be a mid-term exam (20%), two map quizzes (10%) and four class discussions (5% each) and a final exam (40%). Attendance and participation will count for 10%. Discussion sessions are intended to review and reinforce material recently covered in the class and will be the basis of questions asked in the exams.

Textbooks:

Faure, David China and Capitalism: A History of Business Enterprise in Modern China Hong Kong University Press, 2006. Hardback ISBN 978-962-209-783-4, eISBN 978-988-220-383-9 Paperback ISBN 978-962-209-784-1. Ebook available from the Press website for $12.99

Furber, Holden Rival Empires of Trade in the Orient. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press 1976. Available as e-book from UT library system. One copy held in PCL 2 hour reserve.

 

ANS 307C • Intro To The History Of India

30835 • Fall 2015
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM UTC 3.110
(also listed as HIS 307C)

ANS 361 • Uprising In India-1857

30890 • Fall 2015
Meets W 3:00PM-6:00PM GAR 2.128
(also listed as HIS 350L)

FLAGS:   GC  |  Wr  |  II

This is primarily a writing class but the instructor will deliver two introductory lectures. Assignments will build up from short book/video reports up to two longer take-home essays due on October 16 and December 7. Students will be required to critically examine texts and images (including video-film) and confront them, in turn, with the primary sources. The readings/viewings are designed with this end in view.

Texts:

There is no required textbook; all the readings and notes will be available on the course website. A full list will be found in the syllabus.

For consultation: A companion to the "Indian mutiny" of 1857 / general editor, P.J.O. Taylor (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996) will be held in PCL 2 hour reserve.

Grading:

Grades distributed as follows: Participation including class questions and peer reviewing 30%; Assignment 1 10%; Assignment 2 15%; Assignment 3 20%; Final essay – 25%

ANS 307C • Intro To The History Of India

31865 • Fall 2014
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM UTC 3.110
(also listed as HIS 307C)

This course surveys the long history of the Indian subcontinent. It has two goals. The first is to provide you with an outline of the major phases of South Asian history from the rise of its first civilization five thousand years ago, up to the development of modern self-governing states after the end of the British empire. The second is to enable you to think about how humans organize themselves to live in the mega-societies that occupy the world today. India created one of the earliest such societies on the planet. Since the course surveys five thousand years, it will be directed to identifying lasting patterns and institutions rather than individuals and events. But class discussions will especially focus on key personalities and important texts that have left historic legacies or offer insight into their times. The format will be a mix of lectures with discussion, as well as discussion meetings devoted to specific readings.

The course is designed to accommodate students with no previous knowledge of Asia. It does require students to attend regularly, contribute to a collective learning process, keep up with weekly readings and participate constructively in discussions. Discussions will usually focus on primary sources. A primary source is something that historians use as a valid record of the past. All good historical narrative is constructed on the basis of evidence from primary sources. Reading and discussing these will enable you reason from evidence, just as historians do. There may be occasional snap quizzes.

Texts:

Thomas Trautmann India: Brief History of a Civilization Oxford University Press, 2011 pback, ISBN 978-0-19-973632-4

All other readings will be available on the course website or free download.

Grading:

 

Make-ups will be available for those absent for adequate and documented reasons (e.g. illness). Extra participation credit may be awarded for attendance at special lectures or events.

 

ANS 384 • Language And Power

32013 • Fall 2014
Meets F 9:00AM-12:00PM CMA 3.134
(also listed as HIS 382N)

The purpose of this course is to conduct an interdisciplinary exploration of language history, language ideology and politics in the past and present with a particular focus on South Asia in comparative Asian and global setting.

All complex human activity is constituted in and mediated by language.It has therefore, long been used to organize human interaction on every scale, from the imagined interlocutor of the soliloquy to the largest programs of making States and re-making subjects. It is as new as efforts to sanctify the status of English in the USA and as old as the first empires.

The many-layered linguistic patterns of South Asia past and present have long made it a focus for the systematic study of socio-linguistics and linguistic anthropology. South Asian materials therefore figure significantly in the readings.

Readings will include the important works of Pierre Bourdieu and John Gumperz as well as Muzaffar Alam, Bernard Cohn, Benedict Anderson and Sheldon Pollock. Twentieth century controversies in India and Pakistan will be addressed via both primary and secondary sources. Most readings will be available via Canvas as pdf-s so students will need to acquire a limited number of books.

Books required:

Muzaffar Alam The Language of Political Islam in India 1200-1800 (Delhi: Permanent Black, 2001) ISBN 81-7824-062-9 [as this is hard to find, additional copies will be held in PCL for short-term loan]

Michael E. Brown and Sumit Ganguly eds. Fighting Words: Language Policy and Ethnic Relations in Asia (MIT Press 2003) ISBN 0-262-52333-7

Patrick Eisenlohr Diaspora, Time and Ethnolinguistic Belonging in Hindu Mauritius (Berkeley: University of California Press 2006) ISBN 0-520-24880-5

Pierre Bourdieu Language and Symbolic Power (Cambridge MA: Polity Press 1991) ISBN 0-674-51041-0

Grading:

Starting with the second week of semester, each student will post a short response paper on the course Canvas site by 5 PM on the day preceding every class.

In addition to the response papers, each student will chair at least one session of the class. That means the student will go over the main points in the reading and consider some of the strengths and failures of the arguments raised in the assigned books and articles. Leadership and participation in the class will count for 50% of the class grade. 

Each student will write two review essays: the first on readings for September-October and the second on the readings October-December. Each paper will account for 25% of the total grade.

ANS 361 • Business & Society South Asia

32120 • Spring 2014
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM GAR 1.126
(also listed as HIS 364G)

The Indian sub-continent was long viewed as dominated by religious values that bred fatalism and ensured economic stagnation. Yet this is a region with a recorded history of four thousand years of economic and cultural exchange with other parts of the world. This course will introduce you to the long history of commerce and enterprise in the Indian sub-continent up to the present. It will also enhance your understanding of the sociology of economic activity, the role of governance and the changing representation of the entrepreneur in popular culture. The course does not require previous study of South Asia (the Indian subcontinent), though students without such exposure will need to acquire some additional background information.

 Texts:

Most readings will be available on Blackboard or the Library web-site.

Students must purchase Dwijendra Tripathi and Jyoti Jumani Concise Oxford History of Indian Business ISBN 019568429X (Oxford University Press, 2007) and borrow or purchase Mani Ratnam's biopic Guru (2007).

 I also recommend purchase of Thomas Trautmann India: Brief History of a Civilization

 Oxford University Press 2011 as a ready reference for those without a background in South Asian studies.

 Grading:

Your progress will be tested by mid-term and final examinations, periodic quizzes, and two 3-page review essays. Participation in class discussions is an important part of the course and will count for 20%of the overall grade. Anyone who misses a quiz or mid­ term for a valid, documented reason may be permitted one opportunity to make-up the work within 7 days.

HIS 382N • South Asia In Global History

40210 • Spring 2014
Meets M 3:00PM-6:00PM GAR 2.124

This course (a reading seminar) will introduce you to the long history of South Asia and its peoples’ interaction with the world. We shall look at cultures, perceptions and especially political economy. We will consider the movement of ideas and migration of practices as well as people. We shall especially focus on the political economy of labor migration and long history of a key textile fiber – cotton both as commodity and symbol.

It will require weekly responses in addition to a short intermediate and longer end-semester paper. The latter will use primary and secondary sources on the theme of the political economy of cotton. The topic will be selected in consultation with the instructor and must be decided before the eighth week of the semester. The papers will then be presented in one or two sessions held in conference format at the end of the semester.

The short intermediate paper will be an analysis in 4-5 pages of one or two primary source documents on laboring migrants and their fates.

Responses need to address all the readings assigned but need not be integrated essays. They may (for example) be a set of notes on each individual reading with page numbers for specific citations. I would encourage, but not require a supplemental comment on the readings as a whole.

 

Texts for acquisition (other readings will be available via Blackboard)

Manfred Steger Globalization: A very short introduction Oxford University Press 2008; ISBN 978-0-19-955226

Richard H. Davis Global India c. 100 CE: South Asia in Early World History Ann Arbor: Association for Asian Studies 2009

Prakash C. Jain ed. Indian Diaspora in West Asia Delhi: Manohar 2007 [recommended, not required]

Sunil Khilnani Idea of India New York: Farrar Strauss 1999 [any complete edition acceptable]

Emma Tarlo Clothing Matters. Chicago: University of Chicago Press 1996.

All the books above are available in inexpensive paperback editions; print copies will be held on reserve at the PCL.

 

Select other readings: grouped by topic will be available via Blackboard.

 

ANS 307C • Intro To The History Of India

31790 • Fall 2013
Meets MW 3:00PM-4:30PM CLA 0.112
(also listed as HIS 307C)

Aims

This course surveys the long history of the Indian subcontinent. It has two goals. The first is to provide you with an outline of the major phases of South Asian history from the rise of its first civilization five thousand years ago, up to the development of modern self-governing states after the end of the British empire. The second is to enable you to think about how humans organize themselves to live in the mega-societies that occupy the world today. India created one of the earliest such societies on the planet.

Class discussions will especially focus on key institutions, personalities and important texts that have left historic legacies or offer insight into their times. The format will be a mix of lectures with discussion, as well as discussion meetings devoted to specific readings. 

Requirements and evaluation

The course is designed to accommodate students with no previous knowledge of Asia. It does require students to attend regularly, contribute to a collective learning process, keep up with weekly readings and participate constructively in discussions. Discussions will usually focus on primary sources. A primary source is something that historians use as a valid record of the past. All good historical narrative is constructed on the basis of evidence from primary sources. Reading and discussing these will enable you reason from evidence, just as historians do.

Grading:

There will be three in-class examinations through the semester (20%+20%+20%)

One book report on a play or novel (20%)

Participation 20%

Books required for purchase:

Thomas Trautmann India: Brief History of a Civilization Oxford University Press, 2011 pback, ISBN 978-0-19-973632-4

All other readings will be available on the course website or via Blackboard.Consult the syllabus for a fuller description. Please email the Professor if you have questions!

HIS 350L • Uprising In India-1857

39845 • Fall 2013
Meets T 3:30PM-6:30PM CBA 4.342

This course aims to introduce students to the problems faced in historical research via the scrutiny of the sources and historical writings on one of the most contentious episodes in the history of the British in India. The year 1857 saw the most violent and widespread attempt ever made to destroy the British empire in South Asia. It was ferociously suppressed after a war of re-conquest lasting over a year. Various episodes in this struggle entered British imperial folklore and legend, while Indian nationalists gave them radically different meanings. Students will be required to critically examine texts and images (including video-film) generated by these controversies and confront them, in turn, with the primary sources. The readings/viewings are designed with this end in view.  The crafting of coherent prose narratives from primary sources is a major focus of this course.

Each student will write drafts and final versions of two research papers as well as one analysis of a primary source.

 

Texts:

There is no required textbook; all the readings and notes will be available on the course website. A full list will be found in the syllabus.

Grading:

 

Primary source analysis: 15%

Two research paper drafts: 10+10%

Two final papers: 20+20%

Participation: 25%.

Please see the syllabus for a more detailed account.

Videos


Sumit Guha on "Asia, Europe and America in the Making of 'Caste'"
Plenary Keynote at European Association for South Asian Studies conf. in Warsaw, July 28, 2016.



Read more about the keynote:
Sumit Guha invited to deliver Plenary Keynote at European Association for South Asian Studies conf. in Warsaw.


 

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