Assistant Professor of South Asian Studies and History
Uditi Sen, assistant professor of South Asian Studies and History, received her B.A. from Presidency College, Kolkata and her M.A. from Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi. She completed a PhD in History from the University of Cambridge in 2009.
Uditi's research interests include state-society relations in independent India, the gendered nature of governance and the complex relationship between displacement and development. Through micro-histories of rehabilitation policies she explores how categories and discourses of governance have impinged upon the lives of vulnerable citizens. Oral historical research forms a vital component of her work, which enables her to give prominence to perspectives "from below" and investigate the interface between memory and identity.
Her publications include the essays "Dissident memories: Exploring Bengali refugee narratives in the Andaman Islands," published in an edited volume on Refugees and the End of Empire: Imperial Collapse and Forced Migration during the Twentieth Century (Palgrave McMillan, 2011) and a forthcoming essay in Modern Asian Studies entitled "The myths refugees live by: Memory and history in the making of refugee identity."
At present she is working on the manuscript of a Bengali book, entitled Deshbhager Prantakatha (Voices from the Margins of a Divided Country) based on her interviews with Bengali refugees in the Andaman Islands.
One of the most enigmatic political leaders of the modern period, M.K. Gandhi remains a controversial figure. On one hand, he is celebrated as the father of the Indian nation and an apostle of non-violence, and on the other hand viewed as a wily politician and a patriarch with problematic views of gender and sexuality. In his lifetime, thousands saw him as a saint, while others (mainly Hindu nationalists) reviled him as a traitor to Indian nationalism and blamed him for the partition of India. This course investigates these multiple myths and images around Gandhi in order to understand which, if any of these, have any historical validity. Using Gandhi's own writings and the words of his contemporary admirers and detractors, it attempts to go beyond these binaries and instead explore his biography, his politics and his philosophy in their full complexity.
This course immerses students in a creative process of hearing, interpreting and performing voices from the past. The voices are of ordinary people, describing their extra-ordinary experiences of living through the partition of India and Pakistan in 1947. Through a combination of creativity and historical inquiry, students explore what it means to 'hear' a voice from a different culture and time. In the first part of the course, students will engage with documentaries and historical writings to contextualize the people's memories of partition. In the second part, students learn about the interpretative methods used by oral historians and use them to develop their own method of 'hearing'. The final and culminating part of the course conceptualizes hearing as an active and creative process. Students use creative formats, such as acting, dance, movement etc. to reinterpret and perform voices from the past. No prior knowledge of South Asia is necessary, but some experience or comfort with performance and creativity is recommended.
This course is of interest to all Div II students who seek to incorporate a historical perspective to their work. It will cover a wide range of topics and recent methodologies such as transnational identities, immigration/migration, race and ethnicity, women's history, early modern science, visual culture, sex and the body, gender and the law. Students will have the opportunity to engage directly with archival material and critically analyze oral history methods. The readings will be located in Renaissance Europe, the early modern Mediterranean, the Black Atlantic, and Contemporary America/Transnational Sites. In addition, we'll invite other Hampshire historians to speak about their own work in Afro-American, South Asian, Middle-Eastern, and nineteenth- and twentieth-century U.S. history. The first section is devoted to reading the historical literature; the second section is a seminar devoted to an in-depth study of your own work. The aim of this course is to provide you with a foundation in historical methods, and to produce a substantial research paper for your Div. II portfolio.
Independence from British rule saw colonial India being partitioned into Hindu-majority India and Muslim-majority Pakistan in 1947. This 'event' was accompanied by riots, genocidal ethnic violence and led to the displacement of over 15 million people. This course is designed as an exploration of the many meanings of this watershed in South Asian history. Beginning with the 'high politics' of partition, we will move on to exploring common people's experience and memories of partition, 'from below'. Causes of religious hatred, the refugee crisis, memory and fiction on partition will be some major themes. The continuing relevance of partition in the politics, society and culture of South Asia today will be explored in detail, using the broadest range of sources (newspapers, films, primary historical sources, creative writing, interviews and documentaries). This course will be of interest to all students interested in exploring the inter-relationship between conflict, history, gender and memory.
Assistant Professor of South Asian Studies and History
Mail Code SS
Franklin Patterson Hall G3
893 West Street
Amherst, MA 01002