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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Politics

Undergraduate Course: Majoritarian Nationalism, Populism and Ethnic Conflict in South Asia (PLIT10170)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course discusses the rise of majoritarian nationalism (the nationalism which seeks to elevate the symbols, narratives, customs, laws and policies associated with a core ethnic group or nation to the state as a whole) within and across three ethnically diverse South Asian states: India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. It discusses what explains this rise, how it relates to populism, what is means for democracy and especially how it affects the accommodation of minorities based on religion, caste, language or tribe.
Course description The course assesses the meaning, causes and consequences of majoritarian nationalism within and across three key South Asian states: India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. All three states are plural or multi-ethnic in character and each is a former British colony. By the end of the course, students should be able to understand how concepts such as majoritarian nationalism can be applied to South Asia, what they mean for democracy (and democratic backsliding) and how they relate to populism. Furthermore, they should gain insight into what has caused (the rise in) majoritarian nationalism in each of these countries and how it has affected the accommodation of ethno-linguistic, tribal, religious or other minorities therein. They should understand how majoritarian nationalism has evolved over time and why its intensity and forms have varied within and across these three states.

The students are first introduced to key concepts and theories, such as the varieties of nationalism (and) dominant or majoritarian nationalism, and their relationship with democracy and populism. Most political science literature which seeks to explain the rise of majoritarian nationalism and populism is based on the experience in the West: the course will review these theories in brief with a view to assess their validity (and shortcomings) when applied to South Asia. The course then introduces students to different ways in which the state has dealt with ethnic diversity and discusses how the rise of majoritarian nationalism may affect the management thereof. Of particular importance here is some engagement with the concept of 'ethnocracy' or 'ethnic democracy'.

In the second part of the course, students are then introduced to the key case studies: Pakistan, Sri Lanka and India. Although these will be dealt with one by one, different aspects may be emphasized, taking into consideration differences between these countries. For instance, the characterization of Pakistan as an at best hybrid (semi-democratic) regime, as opposed to the more competitive electoral regimes of Sri Lanka and India. Students will be introduced to how majoritarian nationalism operates in each of these countries, why it gained significance in recent times and how it has already affected the management of democracy and the protection and status of minorities.

The course will be taught under a standard 1 hour lecture + 1 hour tutorial form. Half of the tutorials will be open, with students expected to engage with pre-set readings and discussion questions; the other half will be taken up by group presentations, in which members of a group are expected to lead on the ensuing discussions. A course essay linked to topics covered in weeks 1-5 and a short deadline assignment with 2 short essay questions covering the entire course will be used to assess the extent to which students have met the overall learning outcomes.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: Politics and International Relations 1A: Concepts and Debates (PLIT08017) OR Politics in a Changing World: An Introduction for non-specialists (PLIT08012) OR Introduction to Politics and International Relations (PLIT08004)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements Students who lack these pre-requisites but have completed comparable courses should contact the Course Organiser to confirm if they are eligible to take this course.

Students would benefit from having taken South Asia in the World (SAST08003) at pre-Honours.
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should have at least four Politics/IR courses at grade B or above (or be predicted to obtain this). Only university/college level courses will be considered.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  0
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 20, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 176 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 90 %, Practical Exam 10 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Mid-semester essay based on pre-set questions: 2500 words (45 percent)
End semester short deadline assignment: 2 x 1250 word pre-set essay questions (45 percent)
Tutorial participation (10 percent) = of which Individual Tutorial Participation (5 percent) and Group Presentation (5 percent)
Feedback Feedback on all assessed work shall normally be returned within three weeks of submission. Where this is not possible, students shall be given clear expectations regarding the timing and methods of feedback.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Understand the meaning of majoritarian nationalism and its relationship with democracy (including democratic backsliding), populism and the management of ethnic diversity.
  2. Apply the key concepts and theories to case studies from South Asia: namely India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
  3. Appraise differences and similarities in the meaning, dynamics and effect of majoritarian nationalism over time, within each of the cases (within case- comparison).
  4. Appraise differences and similarities in the meaning, dynamics and effect of majoritarian nationalism, across the cases (cross-case comparison).
  5. Develop analytical and presentation skills through guided research in preparation for assessment and tutorial presentations.
Reading List
- Mohammed Waseem: Political Conflict in Pakistan (London: Hurst 2021)
- Christophe Jaffrelot: Modi's India: Hindu Nationalism and the Rise of Ethnic Democracy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2021)
- Angana P.Chatterji, Thomas Blom Hansen and Christophe Jaffrelot. Majoritarian State. How Hindu Nationalism is Changing India (Noida, UP: Harper Collins, India, 2019)
- Rajesh Venugopal, Nationalism, Development and Ethnic Conflict in Sri Lanka (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018)
- André Lecours and Geneviève Nootens, eds. Dominant Nationalism, Dominant Ethnicity (Oxford/Brussels: PIE Peter Lang, Federalism and Regionalism Series, 15), 2009.
- Vineeta Yadav, Religious Parties and the Politics of Civil Liberties (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2021).
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Develop generic cognitive skills: critical analysis and evaluation.

Help support students to develop core discipline expertise on South Asia, majoritarian nationalism and populism and encourage students to cultivate their desire for knowledge and learning in this area.

Help students work in team, through group presentations and help them develop communication skills in that way and by articulating their views and analysis through active tutorial participation.

Develop an informed and critical opinion on the causes of majoritarian nationalism and its effect on the working of liberal democracy in South Asia. Reflect on your own mindset in this area, and how a critical engagement with the course materials may have changed this.

Analyse, synthesise and critically and methodologically appraise thoughts to break down complex problems (e.g. the relationship between nationalism and populism) into manageable components.

Develop a capability to evaluate information thoroughly, identifying assumptions, defecting false logic or reasoning and defining terms accurately in order to make an informed judgement.

Conduct independent research and enquiry into the dynamics of majoritarian nationalism in South Asia by developing essay plans and writing an analytical essay, by analyzing qualitative (e.g. speeches of political leaders) or quantitative data (e.g. measurements on democracy, World Values Survey data for South Asia), synthesise and report (in essays, short deadline assignment, group presentation or individual tutorial participation).
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Wilfried Swenden
Tel: (0131 6)50 4255
Course secretaryMr Ethan Alexander
Tel: (0131 6)50 4001
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