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What unites a country as divided as that of India? An economic powerhouse and major world power capable of planning “a hundred smart cities” but still home to the largest number of people living in poverty.

India is an ancient civilization known for its religious tolerance and sustainable agricultural practices and yet a country where minorities now often feel unsafe and environmental pollution has become a major challenge; the world’s largest democracy, home to a vibrant Dalit movement, where casteist violence nonetheless persists. An “unnatural nation”, in the words of the historian and biographer Ramachandra Guha, divided along lines of caste, class, language and religion and yet celebrating its 72nd independence day as a united and democratic country.

In this India lectures, eight experts from the University of Amsterdam and elsewhere will explore the plurality and dynamics of this vast subcontinent from an interdisciplinary social-science perspective. They will challenge you to critically rethink Western concepts and realize the importance of understanding issues in regional context. Focusing on post-Independence history, economic and social change, urbanization, environmental challenges, and politics will be discussed with sensitivity towards the specificities of caste, religion, and gender in India.

Lecturer:  dr. L.J. (Luisa) Steur​


At the end of the course the student can:

  • Use academic knowledge of contemporary India and its recent history to comment on relevant items in news media
  • Answer questions relating to the study of India by drawing on knowledge of academic literature from a variety of disciplines
  • Demonstrate a sensitivity to the importance of regional context in interpreting certain societal and cultural phenomena in India
  • Formulate an analytical question around a contemporary development in Indian society and present the answer in a scientific poster


This course is open for UvA students and other interested parties, such as contract students or students from other institutions. You can register from 6 December untill until a week before the start of the course. 

Register UvA students (look for code 5512INDI6Y)

Register other interested parties

If you have any trouble while registering please contact: 

Teaching format

This lecture series comprises 12 sessions. The lectures will be conducted in English.

Teaching method

  • Lecture


The schedule for this course is published on DataNose.

Study materials

  • Literature:
    • The course is inspired by – and draws from – Ramachandra Guha’s (2017) India after Gandhi: The history of the world's largest democracy. London: Macmillan.  Besides chapters from this book, journal articles and chapters from different academic disciplines, available through the UvA library, will be assigned in the Course Manual.


Check the website.

Assessment and testing

See the course catalogue.

Toetsing en toetsdata

The final grade of this course will be determined by the weighted average of the results of the different components of the course.

Component Weight
Written Take-Home Exam 60%
Scientific Poster 20%
Presentation & Note 20%

More information on the structure of the take-home exam will be provided well in advance. Please note that the exam also covers the content of the lectures – it is therefore important to make notes! see for more info: the course catalogue

Mode Short-term
Credits 6 ECTS,
Language of instruction English
Starts in February