South Asian Studies

Program Offerings

Offering type

The minor in South Asian studies, under the auspices of the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies, offers students the methodological and theoretical tools to study the political, economic, social, cultural and religious institutions and practices of the region currently organized into the nation-states of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal.

Hindi, Urdu and Sanskrit. The minor in South Asian studies offers a four-term sequence of language instruction in Hindi, Urdu and Sanskrit. Completion of all four terms of a language will satisfy the University language requirement. All language instruction is offered with an emphasis on gaining knowledge of the cultural context of South Asia, with Hindi and Urdu instruction focusing on speaking, reading and writing, and Sanskrit instruction focusing on reading and interpreting a variety of traditional literary genres. The minor encourages students to take advantage of intensive summer language programs and of the numerous opportunities to study or travel in South Asia, including a semester or year abroad. For more information, contact the Office of International Programs.

Goals for Student Learning

The primary pedagogical goal of the minor is to give students the resources and training to understand and critically engage with the historical, social, political and cultural dynamics particular to the South Asian region and to its substantial diaspora. Additionally, the minor in South Asian studies aims to help students integrate knowledge of the specificity of South Asia as part of a larger world into the disciplinary fields in which they are majoring (humanities, sciences, social sciences, engineering, etc.).

Admission to the Program

Students majoring in any department may enter the minor program with permission from the program director. A student normally enters the program at the end of sophomore year, although entrance in the fall of junior year is not precluded. Students in the departments of anthropology, history, politics, religion, sociology, comparative literature or the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs may find that their studies mesh particularly well with the requirements of the minor program. Majors in the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs should consult the SAS program manager to ensure that the minor can correspond to the relevant regional field requirements in SPIA.

Program of Study

To qualify for the minor, students must complete the normal requirements in their major department as well as the following requirements of the program:

  1. Successful completion of HIN, URD or SAN 107 (usually representing four semesters of study). Students who place out of this requirement should substitute a higher-level language course or, with the program director's permission, another course in South Asian studies. See the program director to discuss using a language other than Hindi, Urdu or Sanskrit to fulfill the program's language requirement.
  2. Successful completion of the Introduction to South Asian Studies core course. Students are ordinarily expected to take this class in their junior year, though it may be taken in sophomore or senior year.
  3. At least three elective courses on South Asia in any of the following departments: anthropology, comparative literature, English literature, economics, history, Near Eastern studies, politics, religion, the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs or the minor in South Asian studies. Please note: No more than two courses in any one department may be used to count toward the minor, and only one course of the four may be taken as pass/D/fail.  Advanced Hindi, Urdu and Sanskrit courses (HIN-URD or SAN 300-level or higher) may count in the SAS course designation category. Students may count no more than two South Asian studies minor classes toward the requirements of their departmental major.
  4. A senior thesis or junior independent project written in the student's major department with a significant South Asian component. If there is no possibility for South Asian content in the departmental senior thesis, students must write a separate piece of independent work focusing on South Asia; please consult with the program director.


  • Director

    • Benjamin Conisbee Baer
  • Executive Committee

    • Zahid R. Chaudhary, English
    • Divya Cherian, History
    • Benjamin Conisbee Baer, Comparative Literature
    • Jonathan C. Gold, Religion
    • Atul Kohli, Schl of Public & Int'l Affairs
    • Gyan Prakash, History
    • Muhammad Q. Zaman, Near Eastern Studies
  • Sits with Committee

    • Ellen Ambrosone
    • Fauzia Farooqui
    • Sadaf Jaffer
    • David S. Magier
    • Karen L. McGuinness
    • Zia Mian
    • Robert L. Phillips
    • Nataliya Yanchevskaya

For a full list of faculty members and fellows please visit the department or program website.


HIN 303 - Topics in Hindi/Urdu (also COM 395/URD 303) Fall LA

Reading and viewing of select Hindi/Urdu literary works and their cinematic adaptations, covering a wide-range of registers, genres and styles: drama, short story, novel (excerpts), as well as commercial and alternative cinema. Attention will be given to historical and social context, as well as different styles and trends. Stories and films will address issues of discrimination, inequity, and reform, representations of gender, social and cultural norms and conventions, stereotypes, taboos, and transgressions. In-depth classroom discussion in Hindi/Urdu of all materials. R. Phillips

HIN 304 - Topics in Hindi-Urdu (also COM 378/TRA 302/URD 304) LA

The course will focus on topics and issues related to literary translation, from Urdu into Hindi, Hindi into Urdu, as well as the translation of Hindi/Urdu literary works into English and from English into Hindi/Urdu. Readings will address issues of theory and practice, as well as selected literary works and their translations. Includes student translation workshops. R. Phillips

HIN 305 - Topics in Hindi/Urdu (also COM 248/URD 305) LA

In the more than seventy years since India and Pakistan became independent countries, a vast amount of literature has been produced in Hindi/Urdu. We will read selected literary materials including fiction, poetry, and essays while also focusing on historical and literary contexts. Materials will represent a range of genres, topics, and trends. Literary texts will be supplemented with additional materials including film and documentary selections, music, and author interviews, etc. Literary sessions and workshops will be organized in connection with the course. F. Farooqui

SAS 317 - The Making of Modern India and Pakistan (also HIS 317) Fall HA