SOAS University of London

Department of Politics and International Studies

South Asian Political Thought

Module Code:
FHEQ Level:
Year of study:
Year 2
Taught in:
Term 2

This module will give students a thorough grounding in South Asian political thought. Part of the course will focus on core political theoretic texts through which modern South Asian political thought, ideas, and ideology have been expressed. The course will also be attentive to political practices through which these ideas are expressed and contested. While a lot of the course will focus on India, it will also engage political thinking in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Myanmar to some extent.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

On successful completion of this module a student will be able to:

  • Identify key political thinkers in modern South Asian history and politics
  • Identify core themes and arguments with which these thinkers were preoccupied
  • Identify and analyse politial practices in which their thought is exemplified, complicated and contested
  • Understand and engage with normative debates over key political questions in South Asia


1 hour lecture per week

1 hour tutorial per week

Scope and syllabus

  1. Rival imaginaries of home and the world
  2. Gandhi and Gandhism
  3. Liberalism and constitution making
  4. Marxism within the system
  5. Maoism against the system
  6. Hindutva
  7. Political Islam
  8. Dalit Thought
  9. South Asian feminisms
  10. Buddhist political thought

Method of assessment

Assessment is 100% coursework (one 2000 word essay worth 70% and one 850 word essay worth 30%).


Suggested reading

  • Gandhi, Hind Swaraj
  • Constitutions of India and Pakistan
  • Tagore, Nationalism
  • Ambedkar, Annihilation of Caste
  • M. N. Roy, Radical Humanism
  • V. D. Savarkar, Essentials of Hindutva
  • Maududi, Towards Understanding Islam
  • Ambedkar, The Buddha and His Dhamma
  • Savitribai Phule, Kavya Phule
  • Bama, Karukku


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules