What makes a nation? There are forces that lead people and groups to come together to build nations, and there are forces that pull people and groups apart, thwarting attempts at political unity. This course looks at the historical moment of the formation of the nation of India, and how religion, language, political and social philosophy, history, and random unexpected events played a part in the formation of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka in the 1940s. Central to the course is a type of elaborate role-playing game, set in India in 1945, in which students are assigned the roles of the leaders who had to figure out how to make an Indian nation happen. They must persuade each other that their views make more sense than those of their opponents. This course presumes that individuals play a significant role in history; it asserts that broader economic and social forces place constraints on what individuals may do, but that those forces do not determine human events. People do.
Later in the course, students will use their experience and knowledge of the Indian example to examine similar issues in our own national discourse, and will seek ways to compromise and build unity between people of disparate ideas and beliefs. Part of the Integrated Semester: “Conflict and Community”