POL 385: Politics of South Asia - Fall 2015

General Information

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Tuesdays and Fridays, 12:30 p.m. - 1:45 p.m.
Gailhac Hall, Room G103

Library guide

In fall 2015 I have fixed office hours on Tuesdays and Fridays from 10:20 to 10:50 a.m. and 1:50 to 2:30 p.m. (on each of those days that classes are scheduled). At those times please feel free to come by my office without an appointment. I also have rotating office hours at least 4 hours per week (usually much more); to meet me at one of those times you must make an appointment. To see the schedule and make an appointment use this calendar. (You must be logged in to gmail or Marymount email. Scroll to the right to see future weeks.) All meetings are in my office, Ireton G108.

There are four required books for the course. They are available for purchase at the bookstore or any online retailer. 
As a writing-intensive (WI) course, the primary focus of the class will be the development of individual research projects. Students will be expected to draw on library materials and the resources of the DC area to assemble a coherent research paper by the end of the semester. 


Final course grades will be determined on a fixed scale, not on a curve. Each assignment is worth a fixed number of points, listed below; these add up to 100. Each assignment will be returned with a numerical score and a letter grade equivalent. Course grades will be based on the total number of points out the 100 possible, with 90-100 an A, 80-89 a B, 70-79 a C, 60-69 a D, and 59 and below an F.

The specific details and grading criteria for each assignment will be posted during the semester, and linked below. 
  • Exam #1. 10%. October 6. Identify and explain any 5 concepts, from a list of 10. List of terms. 45 minutes of class time.  
  • Exam #2. 10%. November 24. Identify and explain any 5 concepts, from a list of 10. List of terms. 45 minutes of class time.  
  • Term paper. 70%. Term papers are at least 4000 words long (about 16 pages), and explore in depth a political issue involving South Asia. Components of the assignment are due in several steps, emailed to me. Assignments are due at midnight at the end of the specified day. 
    • Topic paragraph. 5%. Due September 30.
    • Summaries of three scholarly articles. 10%. Due October 10.
    • Summaries of two scholarly books. 10%. Due October 29.
    • Case study draft. 5%. Due November 19. 
    • Initial draft. 15%. Due November 30.
    • Final draft. 20%. Due December 20.
    • Class presentation. 5%. Sometime between December 8 and 15.
  • Peer reviews. 10%. Due in early December, as assigned. Two reviews (5% each) of other student drafts, following an assigned format. You may write up to 2 additional high-quality reviews, for up to 3% in extra credit points each, by contacting me no later than December 4.

Extra credit:
  • Class participation. Students may earn up to 5% for sustained, constructive contributions to class discussions. 
  • DC event. 5% for a first event and 3% for a second. Attend an event in the DC area on the subject of South Asia and write a blog post summarizing your experience. Specific instructions about attending and reporting on events are here. Posts must be well-written to receive credit; I will send back poorly-written posts for revisions before they are accepted. You will receive 5 extra credit points for one event and post, and 3 points for a second. All events must be completed by December 21 and blog posts submitted for final approval by December 21. (Blog posts are kept private by default, but we may make selected posts public by mutual agreement.)

Two additional mandatory course requirements do not count for any points:
  • Map test. A test of basic South Asian geography. Fill in the names of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka on a blank map, and identify selected cities. The test will be administered at the beginning of each class starting the second week. You may take the test as many times as you wish until you pass, up to once per class meeting including the second exam. Any student who fails to pass the test by the second exam will automatically fail the course. The answers to the map test are here and here.
  • Attendance. Any student who misses 7 or more class sessions will automatically fail the course.

Papers will be marked down one point for each day (or fraction of a day) late. Any assignment or paper that is turned in on time may be rewritten for partial credit, but the grade after revision cannot exceed a B-. Students who miss the exam will have one chance to take a makeup and will be marked down unless they have a valid medical or university business excuse. Students will not be penalized for missing a class assignment for a recognized religious holiday. The exam will be written in class without books, notes, computers, phones, audio devices, or other aids.

Friday, October 2, 2015, is the last day to withdraw from a class without academic record.

Friday, November 6, 2015, is the last day to withdraw from a class with a grade of W.

I do not, in general, grant extensions on major assignments. If you think you have gotten an extension from me but you do not have something in writing from me that specifically says that, then you probably haven’t. Like, if you tell me in person that your paper is going to be late, and I say “okay” or I give you advice on how to complete it, that isn’t me giving you an extension – that’s me saying that I understand that your paper is going to be late. It is only an “extension” (a promise from me that you may turn in a paper late without being penalized) if I have said so, explicitly, in an email message.

I may, at my discretion, check any written assignments for plagiarism at any time during or after the semester, using electronic or other means. Students found violating the Marymount principles of Academic Integrity will fail the course and be formally charged through the University’s Academic Integrity process. By accepting this syllabus and enrolling in the course, you acknowledge that you have reviewed the University’s standards of academic integrity.
Course Schedule and Readings

Readings should be completed before the class session under which they are listed. Author names and chapters refer to assigned books. Readings outside the textbook are linked from the course web page. Some readings on current events are marked TBA and will be assigned during the semester.

1: Introduction

  • Tuesday, September 1 Political consolidation Read: Oberst, Chapter 1
  • Friday, September 4 Inference Read: Baglione, Chapter 1
2: India

  • Tuesday, September 8 Background (slides) Read: Oberst, Chapter 2
  • Friday, September 11 Representation Read: Oberst, Chapter 3
  • Tuesday, September 15 Political competition Read: Oberst, Chapters 4 and 5
  • Friday, September 18 Religion and identity (slides) Read: Oberst, Chapter 6
  • Tuesday, September 22 Ethnic violence Read: These three articles
3: India and Bangladesh

  • Friday, September 25 Economic development Read: Oberst, Chapters 7, 14, and 18
  • Tuesday, September 29 Globalization, secularism (slides)

4: Research topics

  • Friday, October 2 - meet in library Read: Baglione, Chapters 2-5
  • Tuesday, October 6 Exam #1 (45 minutes) and research topic discussion
  • Friday, October 9 - meet in library Research
  • Friday, October 16 Research design
      • Read: Baglione, Chapters 6-9

5: Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Bhutan

  • Tuesday, October 20 Background Read: Oberst, Chapters 19 and 25
  • Friday, October 23 Political violence Read: Death of the Tiger

6: Pakistan and Afghanistan

  • Tuesday, October 27 Background (slides) Read: Oberst, Chapters 8 and 9
  • Friday, October 30 War Read: Paul, Chapters 1-4
  • Tuesday, November 3 Modernization Read: Oberst, Chapters 10 and 11
  • Friday, November 6 Counterterrorism Read: (TBA)
  • Tuesday, November 10 Security dilemma (slides) Read: Paul, Chapters 5-8
  • Friday, November 13 Consolidation Read: Oberst, Chapters 12 and 13
  • Tuesday, November 17 Tribalism Read: Barfield, Introduction and Chapters 1-3
  • Friday, November 20 Civil wars Read: Barfield, Chapters 4-6 Exam #2
  • Tuesday, November 24 Exam #2 (45 minutes) and research paper discussion
7: Term papers
  • Tuesday, December 1 Draft review
  • Friday, December 4 Draft review
  • Tuesday, December 8 Presentations
  • Friday, December 11 Presentations
  • Tuesday, December 15, 2:00 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. Presentations