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. 1.0 FCE in 200 level CAS courses ( CAS200H1CAS201H1CAS202H1)
  3. SAS318H1 or HIS282Y1
  4. 0.5 FCE in 300 level CAS courses
  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.

CAS200H1: Introduction to Contemporary Asian Studies
This course is an introduction to Contemporary Asian Studies. It covers detailed 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 colonialism, nationalism, “race,” religion, markets, urbanization, migration, and mass mediated culture. This course provides preparation for more advanced courses on Asia and globalization and provides an introductory gateway for the Contemporary Asian Studies major and minor. May be taken in the first year of studies.

CAS201H1: Global Asian Studies: Insights and Concepts
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 natures 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 upper year CAS courses.

CAS202H1: Global Asian Studies: Sites and Practices
This interdisciplinary 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, climate change, labour struggles, gender studies, migration, citizenship, and social justice. The course examines the diversity of Asian modernities, cross-regional linkages, and changing approaches to area studies over time. It provides a foundation for the Contemporary Asian Studies major and minor, preparing students for taking more advanced courses on Asia in the global context.

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.



In addition to SAS courses and CAS courses with significant South Asia content, students may choose from the following courses as electives. 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 advisor 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: History, Rights, and Difference 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
  • NEW214H1: Socially Engaged Buddhism
  • PHL339H1: Indian Philosophy
  • POL328Y1: Politics and Government in South Asia*
  • POL357Y1: Topics in South Asian Politics
  • POL441H1: Topics in Asian Politics
  • RLG205H1: Hinduism
  • RLG206H1: Buddhism
  • RLG208H1: Sikhism
  • RLG311H1: Gender, Body, and Sexuality in Asian Traditions
  • RLG312H1: Gender, Body, and Sexuality in Islam
  • RLG352H1: Post-Colonial Islam
  • RLG355H1: Anthropology of Islam
  • RLG358H1: Special Topics in Hinduism
  • RLG361H1: Literatures of Hinduism
  • RLG363H1: Bhakti Hinduism
  • RLG364H1: Hinduism and Contemporary Media
  • RLG365H1: Modern Hinduism
  • RLG366H1: Hindu Philosophy (Godless India)
  • RLG368H1: Hindu Ways of Living
  • RLG372H1: Engaging Tibet
  • RLG373H1: Buddhist Ritual
  • RLG375H1: Buddhist Thought
  • RLG376H1: Buddhism in South and Southeast Asia
  • RLG377H1: Theravada Literature
  • RLG378H1: Buddhist Borderlands
  • RLG462H1: Newar Religion
  • RLG463H1: Tibetan Buddhism
  • RLG464H1: History and Historiography of Buddhism
  • RLG465H1: Readings in Buddhist Texts*
  • RLG467H1: Reading Mahayana Texts
  • RLG476H1: Caste in Tamil Literature
  • RLG478H1: Burmese Religions
  • RLG472H1: Religion and Aesthetics in South Asia
  • SOC218H1: Asian Communities in Canada
  • SMC456H1: Indian Christianity

*Courses for which South Asian Studies students have priority enrolment

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

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

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 economy, politics, religion, education, ethnicity, gender, and caste, as these have played out over time in the making and re-making 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 postcolonialism 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 the landscapes of human livelihood, consumption, production and governance 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, social, political and technological revolutions, and most recently neoliberal globalization. This course theorizes and explores these dramatic changes in a comparative framework. It is aimed at students wishing to better understand the great transformations of modern Asia in a global context.

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 feature a significant amount of social theory, with authors such as Michel Foucault, Roland Barthes, Louis Althusser, and Stuart Hall.

CAS360H1: Asian Genders
This course will explore ways that gender is mobilized and produced in parts of Asia. It seeks to understand gender and sexuality in their 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. The course assumes a willingness to read challenging theory – such as the writings of Judith Butler, Michel Foucault, and Eve Sedgwick – and asks that students commit to regular attendance.

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.

CAS450H1 – Asian Pathways Research Practice
This seminar builds on the systematic overview of research methodologies of the Contemporary Asian Studies major and its capstone course, CAS400H1. CAS450H1 provides students with the opportunity to research questions of contemporary relevance stemming from Asia and its transnational networks and communities. Addressing a range of methodologies, including historical-archival, ethnographic, visual/media, and statistical/quantitative, the course emphasizes research experience outside the classroom, in Asia as well as locally with communities in Toronto. Students will develop their own research contributions while working collaboratively.

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 & Public Policy, and supported by the Faculty of Arts & Science, 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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