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Sunday, September 24, 2023


New course explores India

The India Studies Program will celebrate its one-and-a-half-year anniversary by offering a fifth course for the spring semester.

UH-Clear Lake associate professor Deepa Reddy is teaching the newest course on the anthropology of India.

"(The course is) part of an initiative to establish a core of courses to establish India Studies at the University of Houston main campus," Reddy said. "There is a good, thriving Indian community at UH, so I think that there is a population there that could be drawn into this area."

John Antel, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, said he is intent on establishing a solid international curriculum.

"One thing going on in the world is that there are two nations that are really going to be emerging as powers to reckon with," Antel said. "One of them is China, and the other is India."

Last fall, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and the UH System Board of Regents approved Chinese Studies as a major.

"(The India Studies minor) has not yet been approved by the state, so right now we are building some curriculum with this anthropology course," Antel said. "Once we have all (the courses) lined up, probably in the next year, we’ll have an India Studies minor available to students."

The addition of an anthropology course means more than increasing the number of available courses, Reddy said.

"When you try and study one area of the world, you try and do it from an interdisciplinary perspective," Reddy said. "So you would have a history class, religious study, among others, to (provide) different approaches to the study of India, and anthropology represents one of them."

Reddy, a native of India, has had an international upbringing and lived in India, Nigeria, Canada and the United States. She has a Ph.D. from Rice University in women’s activist organizations and internationalism in India.

"Dean Antel was very keen that I teach (the course) on the main UH campus because this is where the whole activity of India Studies is being centered," Reddy said. "The initiative of establishing the India Studies program on campus is a reason for great celebration. UH is a sister campus with a different set of students and challenges. Both professionally and personally, it’s a really wonderful thing."

Unlike past Indian anthropology courses, which focused more on religion, the caste society and gender relations, the course follows the current anthropological trend of studying the country from a much broader perspective, Reddy said.

"We will also study how India studies medicine, how India participates in the global trade and the global economy, for example the biotech industry and customer-support call centers," Reddy said.

The course will also feature history as part of the curriculum.

"A good part of the class will delve into history, because it’s very difficult to teach about India in any contemporary sense without learning the background," Reddy said.

The course, ILAS 3397, class number 34420, meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 to 11:30 a.m. and still has spaces available for interested students.

A major goal of the program is to encourage students to get a double major in business and India studies, Antel said.

"Then you have a person who, with that kind of degree, can really compete for jobs in the global marketplace," he said.

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