For PhD programme click here

M.A. in Society and Culture

The Master of Arts in Society and Culture (MASC) program at IIT Gandhinagar offers an inter-disciplinary approach toward understanding, appreciating and critically analyzing society and culture.  The faculty group at IITGN represents a wide range of disciplines such as Cognitive Science, Literary Studies, Translation Theory and Practice, Political Science, Sociology, Population Studies, Public Health, Anthropology and more. The MASC program reflects the strength and eclectic nature of faculty contributions across the social sciences and humanities, making the program one of its kind in the country. Some of the special areas of focus are Identity and DifferenceDevelopment and ExclusionLocal and Transnational MobilitiesIndia and its LiteraturesPopulation and Health, among others. For more information on the MASC program, click here.


India and the Colonial Encounter

Instructor: Madhumita Sengupta

Description: This course deals with different aspects of colonial history in India focusing primarily on the economic, social and cultural experiences of colonialism. The course seeks to understand key ideas informing policy formulations by the British in India and examines the various ways in which the latter affected the lives of the colonized.

Social History of Dissent

Instructor: Madhumita Sengupta

Description: This course will introduce students to conceptual issues concerning protest history or the history of dissent in India and other parts of the world in the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The purpose of the course is to understand the constitutive factors determining different modes of protest. The course will discuss both spectacular movements as well as forms of protest that have been equally and perhaps more effective at times than direct action in resisting subjection and bringing about change. Students will be exposed to conceptual issues such as the socio-political factors determining specific modes of protests, the role of the mob in a movement, the question of ‘agency’ or autonomy of marginalized groups in interpreting and changing their conditions and so on.

Research Methods in Social Sciences and Humanities

Instructor: Malavika Subramanyam and Madhumita Sengupta

Description: This course will introduce students to research methods in the Humanities and Social Sciences.This is designed as a foundational course for those interested in research in the Humanities and Social Sciences. It is meant to familiarize students with a broad range of methods and analytical tools commonly employed in research in these fields. The course has been divided into two broad components- Quantitative and Qualitative Methods. In Quantitative Methods, students will be taught how to conduct quantitative studies with a focus on understanding research questions, conceptual models, counterfactual causal theory, confounding, mediation, moderation, measurement, scale development, study designs, and threats to validity of causal inference. In the Qualitative segment, the focus will be primarily on Ethnographic and Interpretive Methods and on tools and concepts intrinsic to Historical Research. The focus will be primarily on epistemic shifts in the evolution of the discipline of History ranging from debates on the nature of enquiries about the past to the possibility of recovering the past as it really was.

Anthropology, Citizenship and Human Rights

Instructor: Rosa Maria Perez

Description: The course aims at emphasizing the division between public and academic perceptions and constructions of citizenship and human rights grounded on an anthropological approach.These topics will be illustrated in different societies from the viewpoint of disadvantaged people and social groups such as migrants, refugees, exiles, homeless, dispossessed.India will be taken as a reference and the students will be stimulated to carry out fieldwork at the margins of the social structure. Euro and ethnocentrism will be criticized.

South Asia: History, Society and Culture

Instructor: Madhumita Sengupta & Srinivas Reddy

Description: This course provides a broad survey of fundamental developments in South Asian history, culture and society. The geographic focus of the class will be the Indian subcontinent and will include the peoples and histories of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Critical ideas relating to social structures, religious practices, modes of polity and the production of art and literature will be explored from a historical perspective so as to highlight how these multi-dimensional cultural practices have both changed and remained constant over time and space. The course will examine events and ideas from ancient, medieval, early modern, colonial, post-colonial and contemporary South Asia. Themes of cultural adaptation, rejection, assimilation and transformation will provide a critical framework to understand how this culturally rich, complex and diverse region of the world has evolved over many millennia.

Social Gerontology: Aging and the Life Course

Instructor: Tannistha Samanta

Description: This course analyzes sociological and cultural aspects of aging from a life course perspective. The course will adopt an intersectional and interdisciplinary approach to examine questions of gender, the body, family, identity, social practices, medical and legal discourses surrounding aging. Specific topics include: Theorizing aging across disciplines (history, demography, economics, anthropology and feminist studies); cultural representations of age and aging (body, self-image advertising, consumer culture and ageism); family structure and intergenerational relationships (social networks, caregiving and grand parenting); later life in a transnational era (questions of identity, ethnicity, nation and transnationalism); the politics of aging; and social policy.

Harappan Civilization

Instructor: V.N. Prabhakar

Description: The course will focus on the discovery of Harappan Civilization, its nomenclature, extent and distribution, evolution of the Harappan culture from the regional cultures, distinct features of Harappan culture like architecture, pottery, copper metallurgy, bead industry, weighing system, writing system, trade relations with the Mesopotamians, religion, society & political system, Harappan art, burial practices, etc.

Classical Indian Literature in Translation

Instructor: Srinivas Reddy

Description: Comprehensive overview of several important works of classical Indian literature in Sanskrit, Prakrit, Pali, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Persian and other languages. All texts will be read and analyzed in English translation with some references to the original texts. Works to be covered will include excerpts from the following texts, authors and compendiums: Vedas, Upanishads, Tripitika, Sattasai, Sangam, Puranas, Mahabharata (including the Bhagavad Gita), Ramayana, Asvaghosha, Kalidasa, Bhavabhuti, Amir Khusrau, Basava and others. We will also explore the greater history and evolution of literary cultures in India by contextualizing premodern literary production within a framework of synchronic social, religious and political developments. Students will also be encouraged to produce their own translations of classical literature

World Civilizations and Cultures

Instructor: Srinivas Reddy

Course description: Comprehensive overview of several important civilizational developments in the history of the world. The course will focus on how multiple cultures from around the globe have developed varying scientific, artistic and philosophical modes of knowledge in their pursuit to understand the human condition, society and the world at large. Civilizations to be covered in class include, but are not limited to, the Indus, Vedic, Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Han, Mayan, Aztec, Greek and Roman. Emphasis will be placed on the advancement and transmission of scientific knowledge, the implications for cross-cultural interactions, and the plurality of global thought.

Introduction to Demography: Population Measures & Social Processes

Instructors: Tannistha Samanta & Shivakumar Jolad

Course description: This course will be offered in two thematic sections that are conceptually related. The first section will discuss concepts, measures and methods of formal demography. The second section will discuss how the methods and concepts in formal demography interrelate with social institutions such as marriage, family and society.

Theme 1: Demographic concepts, measures and methodologies

Introduction to Demography: History of world population and Origins of Demography; Age-sex composition structure and population pyramids; Rates and Probabilities: e.g. demographic rates, concepts of period and cohort, age standardization, Lexis-diagrams, age-specific probabilities; Vital processes: e.g. data and measures of mortality, birth interval analysis; Life Tables and Single Decrement Process :will draw case studies from several countries including India and the U.S; Population Projection: Projections and forecasts methodologies, projections in matrix notation;  Stable and Stationary Population Models: e.g. Lotka’s equation characterizing the stable population, population doubling time, stationary Population.

Theme 2: Social Demography

Demographic Theories & Perspectives (e.g. Malthus, Marx, Demographic Transition Theory, household economics and anthropo-cultural perspectives of population change); Politics of Reproduction: the politics of contraceptive technology and “unmet need”; Migration: theories, global patterns and consequences of international migration; Family Demography: changing nature of unions, marriage, divorce and cohabitation; Population growth and economic development debates

A Critical Journey Through Select Thoughts and Theories

Instructor: Arnapurna Rath

Course description: The course is meant to target those Ph.D. scholars who would be interested in an intensive journey through the alleys of literary, scientific, philosophical, and anthropological-cultural theories. The objective of this course is to expose researchers and challenge them to trace some major theoretical concerns that have existed within the Western literary and philosophical tradition through ages.

The course will be executed through the following segments:

These Beginnings:  Socratic Dialogues (selections),   Plato’s Apology, Aristotle’s Physiks – Book IV, Select Readings from Sir Francis Bacon’s Advancement of Learning, Spinoza’s Tractatus Politicus, Chapter-XI (of Democracy)

Aesthetics, Sublimity, and Representation: Emmanuel Kant. Selections from the Critique of Judgment, Arthur Scopenhauer, The World as Will and Representation – Volume I, Book III,   Jean-François Lyotard, “Lessons on the Analytic of the Sublime”,  Walter Pater, “The Renaissance: studies in Art and Poetry”

In a “Dialogue”  Mikhail Bakhtin. “Discourse in the Novel” from The Dialogic Imagination, Julia Kristeva. Selected Chapters from Powers of Horror

Introduction to Sociology

Instructor: Tannistha Samanta

Course description: This course is designed to be a broad introduction to the discipline of sociology. This course has three goals: (1) to introduce students to the different perspectives within sociology; (2) to encourage students to think deeply and critically about our social world; and (3) to help students establish well-informed links between theory, problems and practice. The course will particularly focus on the broad sociological concern of inequality and how it plays out in several social processes such as globalization, immigration, urbanization and consumer culture. Examples will be drawn from India and beyond.

Perspectives on global poverty and development aid

Instructor: Tannistha Samanta

Course description: While acknowledging that most transnational development efforts are motivated by a well-intentioned aim to improve lives of impoverished people, this course will critically evaluate the enterprise of international development and aid. Among topics for study are: Development and its discontents: Competing theories on “development” of the Third World; contemporary trends, challenges and “best practices” in the development of the global south; Economic aid and development: are they are related?; Debt and aid effectiveness: with special focus on structural adjustments, debt crisis and rise of  conditionality; Concept of global social contract, specifically the role of global economic institutions (IMF, World Bank, bilateral aid programs) in addressing unequal opportunity and global market failures.

When you cannot experiment: social science methods

Instructor: Malavika Subramanyam

Course description: This course will first introduce students to the important social factors that impact an individual’s health and later encourage them to think of ways of intervening such that changes in society lead to improvements in public health. The initial part of the course will focus on introducing the concept of social determinants of health, epidemiology, social epidemiology and show how this framework of thinking is applicable when studying any problem affecting society. Social determinants such as socioeconomic status, gender, caste, neighbourhood of residence, income inequality will be discussed.

The latter portion of the course will introduce concepts of causal inference using the counterfactual theory of epidemiology. This course will challenge students to think of causal inference, especially in situations when the experimental method cannot be applied. Examples of questions addressed are: Does providing electricity to a village lead to a greater rate of school admissions among girl children? And does staying in school have an impact on the health of girl students? Do income-generating schemes have a positive impact on health status? How can we address such questions?

Research Communications

Instructor: Sharmita Lahiri

Course description: This course will make students aware of the scope and importance of communication in the professional sphere. It will equip them with skills that will facilitate establishment of a favorable self image and successful communication of their research work. Various media of professional communication will be covered. The course will emphasize the importance of succinct written and oral communication.

Writing for the Mass Media

Instructor: Achal Mehra

Course description: Fundamentals of reporting and writing for the print and online news media: news concepts, leads, story structure, news style, reporting techniques, editing, media law and ethics.

History of India Through Cinema

Instructor: Rita Kothari

Course description: The course is restricted to Hindi Cinema since that is the genre the instructor is most familiar with, however, as and when possible instances are drawn from ‘regional’ cinema in India also. The Hindi cinema has helped and sometimes critiqued the construction of India as an idea. It has had a fascinating trajectory from the times of Dada Phalke to the present. What role has cinema played as an institution of profit as well as civil society, and how does one understand India through it? The course straddles the visual world of cinema along with histories such as Ramchandra Guha’s India after Gandhi.

Business Communications for Management Minors

Instructor: Sharmita Lahiri

Course description: This course will make students aware of the scope and importance of communication in the business sphere. It will equip them with communication skills that will facilitate establishment of a favorable self image and successful interaction within formal settings. Various media of business communication will be covered. The course will emphasize the importance of succinct written and oral expression in modern business communication. Course Content: The course will focus on specific oral and written formats of communication that are required in the professional world. These will include: Resumé, Letters: Cover Letter and Email, Group Discussions, Interview and Presentation.

Introduction to Music Traditions of India

Instructor: Srinivas Reddy

Course Description: Comprehensive overview of several important traditions within the Indian musical heritage, including but not limited to Vedic chant, dhrupad, khyal, thumri, Carnatic music, Hindustani music, regional folk genres, qawwali, bhajan and film music; Overview of important musical treatises with a focus on Bharata’s Natya Shastra; Fundamentals of rasa theory and Indian aesthetic principles; Introduction to theoretical and aesthetic aspects of raga and tala; Lives and contributions of twentieth century music practitioners; Socio-economic and political aspects of music production, circulation and access.

Paradox of Indian Democracy

Instructor: Mona Mehta

Course Description: This course aims to make sense of what political scientist Myron Weiner described as the “Indian paradox”, by examining how India’s immense diversity and the problems of exclusion (relating to region, caste, religion, class and gender) are negotiated within the framework of a functioning democracy. It will begin by exploring the ideas and contestations surrounding the founding of the modern Indian nation-state through the writings of historical figures such as Gandhi, Nehru, Ambedkar and Savarkar. The course proceeds to critically understand the dominant themes of modernity, secularism, popular participation and communalism that continue to animate post-independence politics in India through the writings of contemporary social scientists. Ultimately, the course seeks to equip students with the intellectual tools and historical grounding necessary to reflect on the central puzzle of the Indian paradox: what makes Indian democracy survive, despite its many challenges? The course uses films and documentaries as an integral part of the syllabus to complement the readings.

Imagining India

Instructor: Rita Kothari

Course Description: The course emphasizes the role of imagination, myths and narratives to understand the pluralistic and inconclusive aspects of India’s socio-political life. It employs eclectic pedagogies and sources to demonstrate how India can be understood from multiple perspectives and vantage points. The premise of the course is that the complexity of India as a nation and civilization cannot be captured through any one dominant form of knowledge but needs juxtaposition of both “facts” and “myths,” official and unofficial discourses. Imagination makes this juxtaposition possible, while also ensuring that no one position maintains hegemonic truth.

India on the Verge of Colonialism

Instructor: Srinivas Reddy

Course Description: n this course students will critically read and comment on selected readings from recent scholarship focused on understanding Indian modes of thought and ways of being before the full-fledged entrenchment of British colonialism. Readings will focus on cultural transformations relating to the production of regional literatures, the interactions of multiple religious traditions, mobility of social groups and the disintegration of centralized modes of governance among others. The late-medieval/pre-modern period will be explored with a view to understand how and why India became fertile soil for colonial enterprises, and what epistemic shifts (if any) resulted in these formative encounters.

Society and Stress Systems

Instructor: Amy DeSantis

Course description: This course will familiarize students with how social factors (such as low income) relate to organ systems in our body. Emphasis will be on understanding how social environments may operate via the body’s stress systems to influence health. Students will discover how various factors that cause stress interact with the body’s stress systems and contribute to the development of health problems. Topics covered include: relationships between social factors, stress systems, and organ systems; relationships between stress, sleep, and metabolism; links between mother’s stress during pregnancy and children’s health; and stress coping strategies.

Introduction to Sanskrit Language and Literature

Instructor: Siddharth Wakankar

Course description: This course will take a bird’s eye view of Sanskrit literature starting from the Vedas and covering different literary genres, such as kavya, nataka, epic, Purana, niti, etc. It will also give some basic information about scientific and technical literature in Sanskrit. The Course will commence with explaining the elementary basics of Sanskrit grammar with the help of subhashitas, a repository of knowledge based in experience. Next will follow an analysis of some original Sanskrit passages from various poetic compositions of repute, like Hitopadesha, Panchatantra, and works of Bhasa, Kalidasa, Bhavabhuti, Banabhatta, etc. Students will also be exposed to various themes relating to manuscript traditions, Indic scripts and textual circulation.

The Impact of Colonialism: Nationalism and Gender

Instructor: Rosa Perez and Lina Fruzzeti

Course description: This course aims to compare the impact of British and Portuguese colonial systems and policies on local cultures and values. Furthermore the course aims to highlight cultural differences and specificities of each colonial structure and strategy, as well as their influences on contemporary India. At the heart of the discussion  will be present- day Indian communities specifically focusing on gender inequalities and social segregation (women and Dalits). In more specific terms, the topics are as follows: Orientalism and gender; gender and nationalism; nationalism and fundamentalism; gender and social segregation; post-colonialism and diaspora.

Scarred Nations : Partition in the Indian Subcontinent

Instructor: Rita Kothari

Course description: The ramifications of the 1947 Partition in Bengal, Punjab and Sindh have been far-reaching. Recent scholarship interrogates the temporal marker of 1947 and suggests the persistence of fragmentation of memories and identities in postcolonial India. Topics covered include but are not limited to : Indian nationalism; moments of revivalism; economies of regions; from high-politics to testimonies; narrating the ‘other’; beyond the Hindu-Muslim binaries; divisions of the word, space, music, and histories; Partition in the East; displacement and memory in the West; the cinematic Partition; Partitions of contemporary India.

Globalization and Transnationalism: Shifting paradigms, processes and implications

Instructors: Tannistha Samanta and Rita Kothari

Course description:
This graduate level course will focus on the competing definitions and paradigms of globalization, drawing from a variety of disciplines including sociology, economics, political science and culture studies. It will include discussions on global production networks, development debates, role of global governance institutions and global inequalities. In addition, the course will analyze sources, consequences and modalities of transnational migrations and related issues of identity, belonging, citizenship and diaspora, with particular attention to how definitions of gender and sexuality are reproduced, deployed and negotiated in these processes. Overall, the course is open to myriad forms of economic, social and cultural globalization in our times.