Lead Departments



Department of Historical Studies

A thorough grounding in the historical context of a society is essential to any attempt at addressing the needs of the present or contemplation of the possibilities for the future. Historical Studies offers it students not only knowledge of the people and events that have shaped a society, but also the intellectual judgment and sharp analytical skills essential to a true understanding of and engagement with that society.

The Department of Historical Studies has eight tenure-stream faculty members who work on various aspects of South Asia. The Department offers courses on varied topics that address the South Asian historical experience. These include courses at the 200, 300 and 400 levels on the history of South Asia and its religions, politics and culture. Focused courses in the history of South Asian religious traditions address Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Zoroastrianism, while courses in Women and Gender studies apply gender and critical race theory to the experience of women in non-Western cultures. A large number of History courses are dedicated to the peoples of South Asia. The interdisciplinary and comparative Diaspora and Transnational Studies program encourages students to think about movements of people and the diasporic communities and issues of identity that result from these movements.

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Department of Language Studies

Proficiency in South Asian languages is not only advantageous for international careers, but is also essential for understanding the cultural, religious, historical and linguistic properties of language. Studying languages like Hindi and Urdu in conjunction with historical or religious studies results in broader understanding of culture. The classical language of Sanskrit has also had a profound influence on religion, philosophy, literature and science throughout Asia and around the world. Similarly, for hundreds of years, Persian language and literature has flourished throughout South Asia, not only in Iran and Afghanistan, but also in the Subcontinent. The increasing presence of multinational corporations and their ability to conduct business abroad can also experience the positive impact of student instruction in South Asian languages. Students entering financial professions with a South Asian focus will understand the language the business operates in. Similarly, companies expanding into South Asia will benefit from graduates fully equipped to implement and lead business opportunities.

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Department of Political Science

As a complement to teachings in Historical Studies and Language Studies, the political aspects of the South Asian experience and the public policies that shape that experience are crucially important to a thorough academic understanding of South Asia and the South Asian diaspora. For individuals engaged in the creation and implementation of policies affecting South Asian nations, and peoples of South Asian origin abroad, political science paired with languages, history and religion becomes critical to defining a robust policy that will positively impact the community it is meant to serve.

Topics in political science of relevance to students of South Asian society include: the prospects for conflict and conflict resolution among the nation states of South Asia; the role and effectiveness of politicians of South Asian heritage in municipal, provincial and national governments in Canada; the mechanisms for the political and social integration of South Asians into mainstream Canadian politics; the experience of various South Asian countries in dealing with deep cultural and religious diversity; and the influence of immigration, human rights, multiculturalism and other policies on Canada’s South Asian communities.

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