Global South Asian Studies

The Global South Asian Studies program uniquely explores the cultures connected to the region in a worldwide context. South Asia (including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, the Maldives, and the Tibetan cultural world) is home to more than a quarter of the world’s population and has diasporas perhaps 24 million strong. Over 830 million people speak Hindi and/or Urdu, making these sister languages the third most spoken in the world when combined. The region is home to many significant cultural achievements, among them the concept of zero, Bollywood films, the Taj Mahal, yoga, and Sufi traditions. Recent years have seen the subcontinent gaining increased global prominence both politically and economically.

South Asia has long had a substantial global footprint. For millennia, the peoples and cultures of the region have migrated east across the Bay of Bengal into southeast Asia, north across the Himalayas into inner Asia and China, and west to Persia, the Levant, and east Africa. Since the era of European imperialism, South Asian peoples have made homes and cultures in the Americas—the Caribbean, Canada, the United States, as well as in the Commonwealth countries such as the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Kenya, and Uganda.  These diaspora populations have contributed in myriad ways to their new homes and have also continued to play an important role in shaping national politics, cultures, and economies within South Asia.

The program offers opportunities to study these cultures through a diverse set of disciplines. Wesleyan University enjoys the distinction of having an Indian music studies program, as well as a group of scholars devoted to the wider region and its diaspora in fields ranging from anthropology, art history, music performance and theory, cultural studies, creative writing, film studies, dance, history, literature, language, government, political theory, and religion. Students will cultivate critical thinking skills using a variety of disciplinary methods and theories, including postcolonial critique, embodiment theory, and feminist and queer theory, while cultivating an awareness of transnational dynamics. Additionally, the program enthusiastically promotes and supports study abroad so that students can be immersed in the cultures of South Asia and diasporas associated with it.