Image: Courtesy of Dev N. Pathak, Sociology, SAU.
About The Department - Vision and Beyond

Over the last half century or so, a vast body of knowledge(s) on the region has evolved within South Asia that mostly remain within the countries of their origin due to a number of reasons. In this specific context, there is a crucial need to share some of this knowledge in contemporary times when, despite assertions of localisations and mini-narratives, the universal does retain its emphasis through a constant dialectics of the two. The debate between the local and universal or mini-narratives and meta-narratives continue to rage, and is more clearly visible in the context of South Asian context. Even so, we are acutely aware of the non-existence of regular and serious forums for South Asian scholarship in social sciences to showcase our own research and thinking. We are also quite conscious of the fact that the process of establishing sociology in the region has created its own peculiarities which has established close inter-relationships between sociology and social anthropology, history, cultural studies, archeology and other related disciplines. We consider the porousness of South Asian sociology one of its most enduring strengths. On the other hand, we are not unaware of the unfortunate regressions sociology has experienced in different South Asian contexts over the last 30 years or so marked by numerous institutional failures.

It is within the context(s) outlined above that the Department of Sociology at South Asian university, initiated in 2011 witihn the Faculty of Social Sciences contributes to teaching, training and knowledge production. It is not intended to be a mere forum for the production of cutting-edge intellectual knowledge and exchange of that knowledge traversing across national borders in South Asia and beyond. Our expectation is that this knowledge would dislocate the persistence of an imposed framework emanating from the colonisation process and postcolonial politics of knowledge. Despite the passage of over fifty years since the process of official decolonization began in the region, much of the analyses of our problems, situations, histories and dynamics emanate from Euro American academia; this is certainly the case when it comes to conceptual formulations and theoretical approaches that are being employed in exploring the region’s social and cultural complexities often without much self-reflection.

The Department of Sociology strongly believes in the need to reformulate this situation by effectively centering South Asia without naively shunning thought from these established centers of knowledge be they in Europe or North America. We believe in an active and robust engagement with these issues within South Asia. In this context, through the work of its faculty and the research of graduate students, the Department would bring forward the newer forms of knowledge that comprehends and represents the South Asian context with a more authoritative and nuanced voice. We strongly believe in the need to actively intervene in the process of knowledge formation through a constant sharing of knowledge that the region produces as well as through interaction with the world beyond the region.

The courses taught in the Department as well as the research carried out by its faculty members reflect this overall vision and our collective commitment towards innovation, move beyond untenable stereotypes, and explore a new world of knowledge within the discipline of Sociology.

Class of 2011, Department of Sociology, South Asian University; Image: Courtesy of Dev N. Pathak, Sociology, SAU.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Exploring South Asia Lecture Series

The Faculty of Social Sciences
In collaboration with
The Department of Sociology


Debating the Ancient and Present
An Interactive Workshop with Prof. Romila Thapar

Chaired by
Prof Rustom Bharucha
School of Arts and Aesthetics, JNU
Source: The Hindu
22 August 2013, South Asian University, Akbar Bhawan, Chankyapuri, New Delhi

‘Historical understanding’, argued Wilhelm Dilthey, is a precondition for the ‘rise of hermeneutics’. If the latter is the art of interpretation and understanding, the former is the storehouse for the bricks and other materials prerequisite for the craft of historiography to unfold. The oeuvre of a seasoned historian, a vertiable goldmine for the hermenutists and social scientists, thus invites for a nuanced interactive engagment. The process of the interactive engagement, as Wittgenstien suggets, does not subscribe to a linear sense of time. A possibility of novel geometry lies with the interactive process within which the ancient and the present are likely to collapse. The questions from ancient history thereby assume contemporary significance and the latter finds resonance in the former. The mythology and history, structural and individual, national and communal, political and religio-cultural, ordinary and extraordinary, etc. unfold on the intractive anvil for critical engagement. In this sense, an interactive workshop with Prof. Romila Thapar, an ever illuminating hallmark in the ancient history of South Asia, is an intellectually promising opporutnity for young scholars. The workshop envisages an interaction along the thematic issues/questions/ideas from some of the key works of Prof. Romila Thapar. We consider the following texts by Prof Thapar as essential readings for the workshop: 

2004. Early India: From The Origin to 1300 AD. University of California Press;  2001. Cultural Pasts: Essays in Early Indian History. Oxford University Press; 2005. Somanatha: The Many Voices of a History. Verso.

  • Who can Participate: Students (post-graduate and doctoral students) and teachers, from social science and humanities;
  • How to secure participation: send a brief bionote (in five sentences) along with a short note (not exceeding 200 words) which shows engagement with any of the above-mentioned works of Prof. Romila Thapar;
  • Last date for submission: 1 August 2013;
  • Confirmation: 10 August 2013.    

Time and venue of the workshop:

2.30 PM to 05.00 PM @ FSI Hall, South Asian University, Ground Floor, Akbar Bhawan, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi 110021.


Contact for participation or any other query:
Coordinator: Dev Pathak, Department of Sociology, SAU

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