Ethnic Conflict – Seminar – Spring 2017

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What is ethnicity? What does it share with nationalism and in what respects is it different? Why do ethnic groups fight violently and kill wantonly, especially after living peacefully for a long time? Under what conditions do they manage their relations peacefully? When do they become nationalistic? Does ethnic conflict mark the politics of poor countries, or is it a wider phenomenon? Do people participate in ethnic insurgencies because of greed or grievance? Will ethnic groups disappear as modernity proceeds further? How should liberals look at nationalism? Is ethnicity, or ethnic conflict, best studied in a small-n, or a large-n, methodological frame?

Pro-Seminar in Comparative Politics – Spring 2011

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Called a field seminar in many departments of the country, this is a survey course. Its purpose is to introduce the key theoretical and conceptual materials in comparative politics since the birth of the field. The course proceeds thematically. Readings cover the classics as well as major works of a more recent vintage. Each week participants discuss a subset of the relevant scholarly literature. Two further points ought to be noted.

Although this course stresses empirical political analysis, normative concerns do inform the questions to which we seek answers. For example, although we usually normatively privilege democratic participation, representation, and accountability over political order, in many parts of the world lack of personal security effectively debars well-being and expansion of choice unless order is established. We do not engage in primarily normative debates in this class, but normative concerns, wherever necessary, will be kept in mind.

Key methodological issues will be addressed in context. Careful attention to research design and method is important for ensuring that our normative predilections do not bias the answers we offer to questions. A number of methodological issues will arise throughout the course, even though research design is not a principal focus of our inquiry in this class. Appropriate research designs and theoretical and empirical methods can vary across substantive applications, and we will address these considerations, whenever required.

Politics in India – Seminar – Fall 2010

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This seminar will present Indian politics in a comparative and theoretical framework.   It will focus on four themes: British India and Indian Nationalism; India’s democratic experience: politics of ethnic and religious diversity; and political economy. The rationale for these four themes is as follows. First, British rule in India (1757-1947) is a natural beginning, if one wishes to understand modern India. A great deal of what happened in post-1947 India was linked to, if not caused by, developments in the British period.  Second, India’s democracy, lasting since 1947 (with the exception of 18 months), has posed new puzzles for democratic theory.  According to theory, India, a poor and primarily agricultural land, should not have been democratic for so long.  Third, remarkable cultural, ethnic and religious diversity exists in the country.  Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Sikhism and Buddhism are the five major religions.  More than fifteen languages are spoken in the country.  In addition, Hindu society has major caste cleavages. Democratic politics has wrestled with such diversities in a way that has historically attracted a lot of attention and enriched theories of modernity, ethnic conflict and social justice.  Fourth, Indian economy has begun to boom, and growth rates have been second only to China’s.  The idea of China and India as economic powers of the coming decades is now commonly proposed in corporate, government and journalistic circles. The politics of the ongoing economic transformation needs to be understood to assess future trajectories