Fall 2023 - POL 339 D100

Selected Topics in Comparative Government and Politics (4)

Politics of South Asia

Class Number: 4641

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Sep 6 – Dec 5, 2023: Wed, 2:30–5:20 p.m.

  • Prerequisites:

    Six lower division units in political science or permission of the department.



Selected Topic:  Politics of South Asia

Course Description:

This course introduces students to the government and politics of South Asia. It focuses on questions of long term effects of colonialism, state formation, democracy, ethnicity and insurgency, rise of lower caste and religious parties, and ethnic riots and lynching. South Asia is home to a quarter of the world’s population, and the largest number of its poor. It is also the region which is home to a large number of insurgencies, some of which are among the longest in the world, like the Naga insurgency in India, and the recently concluded LTTE insurgency in Sri Lanka. The region has seen a large variation in terms of democratic experience, with India being able to continue on its path of electoral democracy along with Sri Lanka, while other countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh often succumbing to military dictatorships and then swinging back to democratic politics. The course will introduce the broader themes in comparative politics, and the debates on these issues like democratization, insurgency, ethnic conflict and violence, rise of Hindutva and other types of political parties in south Asia. It will provide the context within which to examine and make sense of the experiences of countries in South Asia. The unique experience of the South Asian countries will challenge the students to think of how to modify or problematize the larger theories of comparative politics.  The course will mostly focus on India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, since this allows us to delve deeper into theories.

Course Requirements:

Students are expected to attend lectures and complete assigned readings before the start of class every week.


  • Class participation 25%
  • Group Debate or Presentation 5%
  • Short memo on documentaries 10%
  • Midterm exam 25%
  • Research proposal 10%
  • Research paper 25%



Paul R. Brass ed., Routledge Handbook of South Asian Politics: India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal. New York : Routledge, 2010. 


Atul Kohli and Prerna Singh, eds.,Routledge Handbook of Indian Politics. 2012. Routledge.

Jayal, Niraja Gopal and Mehta, Pratap Bhanu eds. 2010. The Oxford Companion to Politics in India. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at: shop.sfu.ca/course-materials/my-personalized-course-materials.

Department Undergraduate Notes:

The Department of Political Science strictly enforces a policy on plagiarism.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating. Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the university community. Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the university. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the university. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Students with a faith background who may need accommodations during the semester are encouraged to assess their needs as soon as possible and review the Multifaith religious accommodations website. The page outlines ways they begin working toward an accommodation and ensure solutions can be reached in a timely fashion.