South Asian Studies is an interdisciplinary concentration in which students work primarily in a specified chronological period (e.g. ancient, medieval, early modern, or contemporary), in a geographical area (e.g. Bangladesh, Bengal, Maharashtra, North India, Pakistan, South India), or in a particular discipline (e.g. anthropology, Hindi/Urdu, history, religion, or Sanskrit) but also take courses outside of their chosen area of emphasis in disciplines such as economics, literature, philosophy, political science, or theatre arts. Each student should work out a coherent course of study in consultation with one or more members of the South Asia faculty. Courses that allow the student to write a major paper on a topic related to South Asia may be included in those needed to fulfill the concentration requirement.

Concentration Advisors 

Lina Fruzzetti, Department of Anthropology

James Fitzgerald, Department of Classics 

Ashutosh Varshney, Department of Political Science 

Vazira Zamindar, Department of History 

Concentration Requirements

All South Asian Studies concentrators must take and pass 10 courses as approved by their concentration advisor.

These should include:

  • HIST 1580, Gandhi's India: South Asia Before 1947 
  • At least one of the following courses in pre-modern history, philosophy, religious studies or literature: 

CLAS 180, Indian Civilization Through its Literature 

CLAS 850, Mythology of India

CLAS 855, The Bhagavad Gita 

CLAS 990, Concepts of Self in Classical Indian Literature 

CLAS 1140, Classical Philosophy of India 

HIST 1590, Beyond Hindu, Muslim: Recovering Early South Asia

RELS 0130, Introduction to Hinduism

RELS 40, Great Contemplative Traditions of Asia

RELS 90, Women and Religion in Classical India

  • At least one social science course such as: 

ANTH 1250, Film and Anthropology: Identity and Images in Indian Societies

ANTH 1131, Peoples and Cultures of India 

ANTH 2321, Coming to Terms with India: Anthropology of Colonialism and Nationalism 

POLS 1280, Politics, Economy, and Society in India 

  • At least one course in the visual arts, modern literature, music, cinema or theatre of South Asia such as: 

HIAA 60, Introduction to Indian Art

HIAA 1410C, What Is Islamic Art 

MUSC 41, World Music Cultures (Middle East and Asia) 

PRSN 1200, Iranian Cinema: Before and After the Islamic Revolution

RELS 910, Music, Drama and Religion of India

TAPS 1270, Performances in the Asias

  • Five electives (see the courses page for some options), two of which may be language courses in Hindi/Urdu or Sanskrit taken in conjunction with the language requirement (see below).

Substitutions within these categories may be made with the approval of the faculty advisor. 

Language Requirements

Proficiency in a South Asian language is required for the concentration. Students who are not native speakers of a South Asian language may prove proficiency by taking two years of Hindi/Urdu or Sanskrit at Brown or by successfully passing a special examination administered by an approved faculty member. Two courses taken to fulfill the language requirement may be counted among the ten courses required.

Study Abroad

All South Asian Studies concentrators are encouraged to take Hindi/Urdu and to participate in Brown in India, a junior-year study abroad program at St. Stephen’s College and Lady Sri Ram College in Delhi. Students can also enroll in any other Brown-approved study abroad program in South Asia. 

Capstone Project

All concentrators other than honors concentrators will designate an upper-level course in the area of their primary focus as their capstone course. The student will take this course during the senior year and will produce as part of the written work for the course a substantial paper or annotated translation displaying the unique focus of his or her concentration.


A South Asian Studies Concentration with Honors requires a high B or A average in courses taken for the concentration as well as an honors thesis in the department of the student’s main focus. Candidates for the honors program should apply to the South Asia Faculty Committee through their advisor by the middle of their sixth semester.