South Asian Studies

Calvin Chen, Chair

Denise Falk, Academic Department Coordinator

112 Ciruti Center

Overview and Contact Information

One of four interdisciplinary majors offered by the Asian Studies Program, South Asian studies allows students to specialize in the history, languages, cultures, and politics of South Asia. Our students are expected to incorporate the humanities and the social sciences fully into their studies with classes at Mount Holyoke and the other colleges in the Five College Consortium. Complementing course work at Mount Holyoke are extracurricular activities and study abroad programs that broaden and deepen students’ understanding of Asia.

On campus, our students experience regional culture at many levels, including language tables and clubs, guest lectures, performing and visual arts, film, festivals, and regional cuisine. These activities are often initiated by and benefit greatly from the diverse student population of Mount Holyoke and particularly the large numbers of students from Asian countries or with an Asian background.

Most of our students spend a semester or a summer in one of the many Mount Holyoke College-approved South Asian study abroad programs.

South Asian studies majors graduate to pursue graduate study and careers in fields as varied as education, business, NGOs, journalism, the arts, and government service.

See Also

Learning Goals

By majoring in South Asian Studies, students should:

  • Develop knowledge of the history of premodern and modern South Asia. 
  • Develop knowledge of the arts, literature, religions, and philosophies of South Asia. 
  • Develop knowledge of the geography, politics, economics, and societies of South Asia. 


This area of study is administered by the Asian Studies Committee:

Satyananda Gabriel, Professor of Economics

Rie Hachiyanagi, Professor of Art, On Leave 2021-2022

Sohail Hashmi, Professor of International Relations on the Alumnae Foundation and Professor of Politics

Kavita Khory, Ruth Lawson Professor of Politics; Carol Hoffmann Collins Director of the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives

Susanne Mrozik, Professor of Religion, Teaching Spring Only

Naoko Nemoto, Professor of Asian Studies

Joshua Roth, Professor of Anthropology

Ajay Sinha, Julie '73 and Helene '49 Herzig Professor of Art History, Teaching Spring Only

Ying Wang, Felicia Gressitt Bock Professor of Asian Studies

Elif Babul, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Teaching Fall Only

Calvin Chen, Associate Professor of Politics

Amina Steinfels, Associate Professor of Religion

Lan Wu, Assistant Professor of History

Lisha Xu, Senior Lecturer in Asian Studies

Heba Arafah, Five College Lecturer in Arabic

Jinhwa Chang, Lecturer in Japanese

Kyae-Sung Park, Five College Lecturer in Korean

Richard Chu, Five College Associate Professor of History

Mohamed Hassan, Five College Senior Lecturer in Arabic

May George, Five College Lecturer in Middle East Studies

Nahla Khalil, Five College Lecturer in Arabic

Suk Massey, Five College Lecturer in Korean

Shaimaa Moustafa, Five Colleage Lecturer in Arabic

Chan Young Park, Five College Lecturer in Korean

John Weinert, Five College Lecturer in Arabic

Requirements for the Major

A minimum of 40 credits:

One course (4 credits) in modern South Asian history, for example:4
History of Modern South Asia, 1700 to the Present
One course (4 credits) on pre-modern and/or early modern South Asia (c. 3000 BCE to 1700 CE), for example:4
Arts of India
8 elective courses (32 credits):32
Two (8 credits) must be from Group One: Humanities (history, religion, philosophy, literature, language, the arts, and interdisciplinary courses in these areas) 1
One (4 credits) must be from Group Two: Social Science (anthropology, economics, geography, international relations, linguistics, politics, sociology, and interdisciplinary courses in these areas)
At least three courses (12 credits) must be at the 300 level. One of the three 300-level courses must be a non-language and non-independent study course. 2
Total Credits40

Additional Specifications

  • Any course that devotes 50 percent or more of its substance to South Asian countries, peoples, or issues may count toward the major.
  • Majors are strongly encouraged, but not required, to pursue study of a South Asian classical or modern language through the Five College Mentored Language Program, summer study, or study abroad. Students may count up to 4 credits toward the major for studying a South Asian language through the Five College Mentored Language Program.
  • One course (4 credits) on South Asian diasporas may count toward the major.
  • Students who declare a South Asian studies major automatically fulfill the College's "outside the major" requirement.

Courses Counting toward the Major

Most South Asian studies courses at Mount Holyoke are listed below, but students should also consult the catalog entries or websites of other departments, including art history, history, international relations, politics, and religion. South Asian Studies majors should also plan to use the rich resources of the Five College Consortium in selecting their courses (listings are available through the Five College Class Schedule or individual college websites).

Please consult the chair of the Asian studies program for guidelines regarding Asian languages not taught in the Five Colleges.

Art History
ARTH-263Arts of India4
ARTH-290BCIssues in Art History: 'Bollywood: A Cinema of Interruptions'4
Critical Social Thought
CST-249BETopics in Critical Social Thought: 'Buddhist Ethics'4
Film, Media, Theater
FMT-230BCIntermediate Courses in History and Theory: 'Bollywood: A Cinema of Interruptions'4
HIST-124History of Modern South Asia, 1700 to the Present4
HIST-239ENTopics in Asian History: 'Empire, Nation, and the Making of Tribes in South Asia'4
HIST-249The Environment and South Asian Lifeworlds4
HIST-301CSColloquium: 'Capitalism in South Asia'4
POLIT-357War and Peace in South Asia4
RELIG-163Introduction to Buddhism4
RELIG-225ANTopics in Religion: 'Arts of India'4
RELIG-241Women and Gender in Buddhism4
RELIG-267Buddhist Ethics4
RELIG-311Sufism: The Mystic Path in Islam4