South Asian Studies Minor


The Centre for South Asian Studies hosts an undergraduate minor program, which also has access to the faculty and resources of the groundbreaking Contemporary Asian Studies program. Students study South Asia in an approach attentive to global formations. They are introduced to the study of South Asia—Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka—through a wide angle view of Asian modernities, political economies and cultures, all the while delving into to specialist close-ups of South Asia. With open access to comparative courses in the Contemporary Asian Studies program, students can learn from tenured and tenure-track faculty specialists in South, East, and Southeast Asia.

With a curriculum motivated by the moving present—the changing face of South Asia today–the South Asia minor offers rigorous training in major debates and questions in the rich field of South Asian Studies, and provides a basic foundation for many directions of future study. From historical contexts of ethnic conflict, to postcolonial readings of ancient traditions, to the politics of religious and ethnic identities, the workings of vast scale democracy and capitalism, and the worlds of cinema and public culture, students are exposed to the dynamic landscapes—political, material, mythic–that constitute South Asia today.

The Minor in South Asian Studies poses crucial questions for understanding global processes and diverse worlds—that span the tribal forest land, the bazaar, sacred sites, the urban slum, among many others–preparing students for careers in fields such as development, international relations, journalism, business, and human rights, as well as advanced social science and humanities research.


Students in the Minor in South Asian Studies must complete 4 full course equivalents (FCEs).For most up to date information, please check the Faculty of Arts and Science Calendar.

  1. SAS114H1
  2. CAS201H1 and CAS202H1
  3. SAS318H1 or HIS282Y1
  4. CAS310H1 or CAS320H1
  5. Additional 1.0 or 1.5 FCEs (as necessary to total 4.0 FCEs in minor) from the list of eligible courses found below.

Core Courses

SAS114H1: Introduction to South Asian Studies
This is a required course for all students enrolled in the SAS minor.
An interdisciplinary introduction to South Asian Studies emphasizing inquiry and critical analysis, drawing attention to the specificities of individual nations as well as the factors (historical, political, economic and cultural) that define South Asia as a region. Some attention will be paid to the South Asian Diaspora.

CAS201H1: Global Asian Studies: Insights and Concepts
This is a required course for all students enrolled in the SAS minor.
This course addresses Asia empirically in contemporary global formations and as an idea in the global imagination. It introduces students to concepts and theories central to scholarship on Asia and its transnational formations. It provides foundational theoretical and conceptual material to understand global issues as they play out in the politics, economies, cultures and contemporary social worlds of contemporary Asian sites. Interdisciplinary analytical and research concepts are introduced to provide area studies grounding. This course provides preparation to delve into deeper research on Asia connected to broad questions about the nature of democracy, authoritarianism, market formation, social justice, and the media of cultural expression. It informs students aiming to take more advanced courses on Asia and globalization and provides one part of the foundation for the Contemporary Asian Studies major and minor. CAS201H1 introduces the theoretical and conceptual frameworks that are explored through further grounded empirical case studies in CAS202H1 (Global Asian Studies: Sites and Practices).

CAS202H1: Global Asian Studies: Sites and Practices
This is a required course for all students enrolled in the SAS minor.
This inter-disciplinary course explores a variety of sites and topics in South, Southeast, and East Asia. It explores themes including contemporary and historical articulations of socio-economic development, (post)colonial political formations, urbanization processes, environmental change, political systems, religious formations, labour struggles, and gender studies. The course examines the diversity of Asian modernities, cross-regional linkages, and changing approaches to area studies over time. It provides the foundation for the Contemporary Asian Studies major and minor, preparing students for taking more advanced courses on Asia in the global context. CAS202H1 is a stand-alone course that may be taken following, prior to, or independent of its sister course, CAS201H1.

HIS282Y1: History of South Asia
An introductory survey addressing major themes in the history of South Asia, examining South Asian political economy, social history, colonial power relations and the production of culture. Emphasis is on the period after 1750, particularly the study of colonialism, nationalism, and postcolonial citizenship and modernity.

SAS318H1: Colonialism and Tradition
This course analyzes the impact of colonialism in South Asia and the various ways in which tradition intersects with and has reshaped colonialism in postcolonial South Asia. The course will examine the role of religion, education, ethnicity, gender, and caste. Some attention will be paid to postcolonial and indigenous theory.

CAS310H1: Comparative Colonialisms in Asia
This course analyzes the impact of colonialism in South, East, and Southeast Asia and the various ways in which pre-colonial traditions intersect with and reshape colonial and postcolonial process across the various regions of Asia. The course will examine the conjunctures of religion, education, ethnicity, gender, and caste, as these have played out over time in the making and remaking of Asia as both idea and place. Attention will be paid to postcolonial and indigenous theories, questions of “the colonial” from the perspective of Asian Studies, and debates about the meaning of the postcolonial for the study of Asia now and in the future.

CAS320H1: Comparative Modernities in Asia
Since at least the late 1700s, the effects of capitalism across the globe have profoundly transformed both the rural and urban landscapes of human livelihood, consumption, and production in Asia. While colonial empires have declined, new empires have emerged, and a growing number of countries have witnessed the rise of nationalism and independent states, political and technological revolutions, and most recently neoliberal globalization. The varied nature and specificities of these dramatic transformations are only beginning to be understood. This course theorizes and explores “Asian modernities” in a comparative framework. It is aimed at students wishing to better understand the great transformations of 20th and 21st century Asia in a global context.


The Minor in South Asian Studies also provides a foundation for students to choose even more specific lines of study on South Asia. The University of Toronto offers an impressive range of courses across departments in the social sciences, both applied and qualitative, and the humanities that students can choose to pursue. In addition to SAS and CAS courses with significant South Asia content, students may choose from the following courses as electives. There are also a wide range of South Asia related courses available at the suburban campuses at Mississauga and Scarborough. For full course descriptions, please check with the sponsoring departments. Not all electives are offered every year. Students are responsible for checking co- and pre-requisites for all elective courses as well as priority controls. Students who wish to count courses towards the program that are not listed here (including U of T courses and transfer credits) must seek permission from the program director IN ADVANCE. Course approval is not guaranteed and will be given at the discretion of the program director. Please consult the program administrator at with questions.

  • CDN230H1        Asian Canadian History
  • ENG369H1        South Asian Literatures in English
  • FAH364H1        Visual South Asia*
  • FAH466H1        Photography in India
  • HIS282Y1        History of South Asia
  • HIS470H1        Rights in South Asia
  • HIS480H1       Modernity and Its Others: History and Postcolonial Critique
  • HIS494H1        Gandhi’s Global Conversations
  • HIN212Y5Y       Introduction to Hindi (at UTM)
  • HIN312Y5Y       Intermediate Hindi (at UTM)
  • LGGA70H3        Introductory Hindi I (at UTSc)*
  • LGGA71H3        Introductory Hindi II (at UTSc)*
  • MUS209H1        Performing Arts of South Asia
  • NEW214Y1        Socially Engaged Buddhism
  • POL328H1        Politics and Government in South Asia*
  • POL357Y1        Topics in South Asian Politics
  • POL441H1        Topics in Asian Politics
  • RLG205H1        Hinduism
  • RLG311H1        Gender, Body and Sexuality in Asian Traditions
  • RLG358H1        Special Topics in Hinduism
  • RLG361H1        Hinduism in the Diaspora
  • RLG363H1        Bhakti Hinduism
  • RLG364H1        Hinduism and Contemporary Media
  • RLG365H1        Modern Hinduism
  • RLG366H1        Hindu Philosophy (Godless India)
  • RLG368H1        Yoga and Ayurveda
  • RLG373H1        Buddhist Ritual
  • RLG375H1        Buddhist Thought
  • RLG376H1        Buddhism in South and Southeast Asia
  • RLG377H1        Theravada Literature
  • RLG378H1        Himalayan Buddhism
  • RLG462H1        Newar Religion
  • RLG463H1        Topics in Buddhist Thought
  • RLG464H1        History and Historiography of Buddhism
  • RLG465H1        Readings in Buddhist Texts*
  • RLG467H1        Buddhist Institutions
  • RLG472H1        Religion and Aesthetics in South Asia
  • SOC218H1        Asian Communities in Canada

Note: For full course descriptions, please visit the Faculty of Arts and Science calendar. Not all electives are offered every year. Students are responsible for checking co- and pre-requisites for all elective courses as well as priority controls.*Courses for which Minor in South Asian Studies students have priority enrolment


1.0 FCE of a South Asian Language may be used towards the minor subject POSt. Courses are offered in Hindi and Sanskrit at the University of Toronto, Mississauga, and Hindi and Tamil is offered at the University of Toronto, Scarborough.

Additional Departmental Course Offerings

CAS200H: Introduction to Contemporary Asian Studies
This course is an introduction to the major in Contemporary Asian Studies. It covers detailed recent (1980-present) case study material from South Asia, Southeast Asia, and East Asia. It introduces students to the interdisciplinary study of political, sociocultural and economic interactions among these regions, as well as the transnational forces shaping internal dynamics throughout Asia. In addition, it examines the ways that forces stemming from Asia are affecting global processes, pushing scholarship to engage questions about the nature of democracy, authoritarianism, markets, social justice, and the meanings and media of cultural production. This course provides preparation for more advanced courses on Asia and globalization and provides the introductory gateway for the Contemporary Asian Studies major and minor. CAS200H1 introduces students to basic social science frameworks in the study of global Asia. This is a required course for the CAS major. May be taken in the first year of studies.

SAS390H1: Special Topics in South Asian Studies
Course content varies in accordance with the interest of the instructor.

CAS350H1: Asian Youth Cultures
In focusing on youth in Asia, this course brings together two disputed cultural formations of substantial contemporary importance. Both youth and Asia are increasingly invoked on the global stage in support of a wide range of interests. Examining practices of young people and the idea of youth in the context of Asia requires critical attention to the promises and fears that attach to the rise of Asian economies, international demographic transitions, the growth of a global middle-class, increasing consumption disparities, changing immigration patterns, expanding technological skills, global/local environmental concerns, and young people’s shifting political priorities and loyalties. The course may consider: youth subcultures, styles, music, and politics.

CAS360H1: Asian Genders
This course will explore ways that gender is mobilized and produced in parts of Asia. It seeks to understand gender in its diversity and in attempts to “fix” or locate it in various bodies and places. Attempts will be made to see how gender is made knowable in terms of sexuality, medicine, nation, class, ethnicity, religion, and other discourses.

CAS370H1: Asian Cities
This course offers a multidisciplinary perspective of urban life in Asia. The thematic focus will be on how the urban intersects with modernities and postcolonial formations. Drawing on recent scholarship in the social sciences and the humanities, we will examine the realignment of cultural, political, and economic forces associated with Asia’s diverse processes of urbanization.

CAS390H1: Special Topics
Course content varies by year in accordance with the interest of the instructor.

CAS414H1: Public Culture and Media in Asia
This upper-level seminar will introduce students to the interdisciplinary study of popular culture and mass-mediated cultural forms in Asia. Through readings about popular protest, festivals, cinema, print, television, and music this course provides methodological tools to interpret the politics of representation and the formation of alternative modernities in the Asian continent and among the diaspora. The course will furthermore familiarize students with a range of theoretical lenses for conceptualizing the different meanings of the public from a modern Asian perspective.

CAS420H1: Asia and the New Global Economy (formerly JPA420H1)
This course explores the rise of Asia and its integration into the new global economy (labour, capitalism, knowledge economy, economic nationalism, inequality, gender, the meaning of capitalism, democracy, among others), exposing students to diverse disciplinary perspectives. Geographical coverage is pan-Asian, including East, Southeast and South Asia.

CAS430H1: Nationalism and Revolution in Asia
This course explores the far-reaching social, political, and cultural transformations in modern East, Southeast, and South Asia, focusing on the twentieth-century revolutionary histories and struggles to establish modern nation-states. The course adopts a topical approach within a chronological and comparative framework to highlight major historical movements and theoretical issues significant to the Asian experience.

Joining a Community

Students enrolled in the Minor in South Asian Studies benefit from the lively discussions and vibrant community at the Centre for South Asian Studies (CSAS) and the broad array of networks and resources at the Asian Institute. Established in 1981, The Centre for South Asian Studies fosters academic research, teaching and public discussion on South Asia, and through these, global questions. Now a key unit of the Asian Institute at the Munk School for Global Affairs, and supported by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, it is home to an award-winning core faculty across the University of Toronto’s three campuses.

The Centre is an international hub for critical conversations across the humanities and social sciences on South Asian worlds, both inside and outside the subcontinent. Undergraduates as well as graduate students, and the broader public, benefit from the wide range of distinguished speakers hosted by the Centre, as well as CSAS-sponsored conferences and workshops. CSAS programming poses critical questions via subcontinental worlds, emphasizing at once the particularities of the historical, cultural, political and economic processes of the South Asian region, and its role as a rich lens for making sense of the globe today.


The interdisciplinary focus of Minor in South Asian Studies prepares students for career and employment opportunities in a wide range of globally-informed fields, including:

  • Advanced Research in the qualitative and applied Social Sciences and Humanities
  • Business
  • Education and Teaching
  • Government and Diplomacy (e.g. Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada)
  • International Development
  • Human Rights and Non-Governmental Organizations
  • Journalism
  • Law
  • Public health, Psychology and Culturally-informed work in the Sciences
  • Social Work

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