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HIS2133 : Society and Politics in Colonial India, 1880s-1947

  • Offered for Year: 2020/21
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Samiksha Sehrawat
  • Lecturer: Dr Willow Berridge
  • Owning School: History, Classics and Archaeology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


This module is for students interested in non-European history who have never studied it before. India is increasingly becoming important for British investors after market-based reforms which converted it into the second fastest growing economy in the world. The British ruled India for 200 years and modern Indian history is very closely related to British history. The popularity of curries in Britain, the presence of large numbers of South Asians in Britain and the strong educational links between the two countries are just some of the reminders of the British connection with India. This module gives students who are unfamiliar with this history an opportunity to engage with it. The main aims of the module are to introduce students to South Asian history and to develop their understanding of British imperial history and colonialism.

The module will cover some of the social, economic and political developments that have shaped contemporary India. It will trace the history of nationalist protests that made India the first British colony in Asia or Africa to become free in 1947. Students will be introduced to important historical figures like Gandhi, who were very influential – shaping the culture of protest in other countries by leaders like Nelson Mandela and Dr Martin Luther King Jr. To understand the history of Indian nationalist politics is to understand the process of decolonization and the decline of the British empire. Its significance lies not merely for Indian history but for the history of anti-colonialism in the British empire. The module will introduce students to the importance of caste in Indian society and explain one of the most important and least known political developments in India today – the rise of lower-caste Dalit politics. Another theme at the heart of the module is the challenge of multi-culturalism. India is a very diverse society. There are numerous religious groups in India including Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains. India has the world's third largest Muslim population and the largest Muslim population for a non-Muslim majority country. This religious diversity has produced tensions in Indian politics which led to the partition of India and the creation of India and Pakistan in 1947.The rise of the Hindu Right has many commonalities with the discourse against Islam that has become pervasive since the 9/11 terror attacks and students will discuss the implications of living in societies where different religious groups have different cultural practices. The emphasis of teaching is on learning in a friendly atmosphere, where student interaction and curiosity is encouraged.

Outline Of Syllabus

Lecture topics may include:

Early nationalism (1): ‘Moderates’
Early nationalism (2): ‘Extremists’, Swadeshi Movement
Communalism and ‘Muslim Separatism’ & Early Gandhian Movements
Gandhian Philosophy: Political Thought, Techniques, Critiques
Khilafat, Non-Cooperation and Civil Disobedience
Non-Cooperation and Civil Disobedience: Participation of peasants, tribals and bourgeoisie
Historiographical Interpretations of Indian History
Caste: Concepts and Introduction to early political mobilization
Caste: Ambedkar and the Role of caste-based identities in colonial Indian politics
Khilafat Movement and Communalism in the 1920s
Partition (1): High Politics

Seminar topics may include:

Early Nationalism and Elite Politics
Gandhian Philosophy
Mass Nationalism and Participation of Different Social Groups: 1920s-1930s
Interpretations of Nationalist Movement
Peasant or ‘Subaltern’ Nationalism
Partition (2): Communal Violence, Gender, Community

Teaching Methods

Module leaders are revising this content in light of the Covid 19 restrictions.
Revised and approved detail information will be available by 17 August.

Assessment Methods

Module leaders are revising this content in light of the Covid 19 restrictions.
Revised and approved detail information will be available by 17 August.

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