Spring 2021 - IS 409 D100

Special Topics I (4)

Conflict South Asia

Class Number: 5876

Delivery Method: Remote


  • Course Times + Location:

    Mo 9:30 AM – 12:20 PM

  • Prerequisites:

    45 units.



Specific details of courses to be offered will be published prior to enrollment each term.


This course will introduce students to the international politics of South Asia. Amongst other issues it will focus on both inter and intra state wars, the impact of nuclear weapons on regional stability and the role of non-state actors. This course will offer a brief historical survey of the political division of the South Asian subcontinent in the wake of British decolonization in 1948. We will deal with the reasons for partition and today’s ongoing conflicts in the region. Among the contentious sub-topics we will cover are religious conflicts and extremism, intense nationalist and tribalist sentiment and identity politics, hotly contended territorial claims, and the dangers of the conventional and nuclear arms build-up. We will also consider the differing narratives and histories of the partition itself. Territorial disputes lie at the very heart of a wide range of bloody conflicts across the globe. Disputes over territory are believed to be among the most contentious and intractable in international relations. We will set out theoretical perspectives on conflict and notions of territory and then explore key cases. Our basic goal will be to develop an understanding of when, why, and how territory has played a role in the history of international conflict and how that role might have changed over time. As we explore this troubled region of the world, we will come to understand its highly contested politics and the global and local contexts of nationalism. Additionally, we'll become aware of the large human and social costs of geopolitical power struggles.


An integral part of this seminar course will be a simulation exercise. Through the semester, students will learn how to undertake such an exercise and also the rationale behind it. The objective is to provide a multidimensional perspective of a crisis in the region.


  • Attendance and Seminar Participation 20%
  • Term Paper 30%
  • Simulation Exercise 20%
  • Final Exam (Take-Home) 30%


This is not a course on “current events.” If you expect that we will devote considerable time to what is in the newspaper, this is not the course for you. The course aims to enable you to understand the current events in the region. You are welcome to raise events that arise that are salient to the topics under study in a given week as well as events that are momentous for the region that do not particularly relate to the topics of the week. These will be rare and must indeed be momentous rather than quotidian events that characterize the region.

Students will be required to submit their written assignments to Turnitin.com in order to receive credit for the assignments and for the course.

The School for International Studies strictly enforces the University's policies regarding plagiarism and other forms of academic dishonesty. Information about these policies can be found at: http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/teaching.html.



Sumit Ganguly and S. Paul Kapur. India, Pakistan and the Bomb: Debating Nuclear Stability in South Asia (Columbia University Press, 2010)

Yasmin Khan. The Great Partition: The Making of India and Pakistan (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007)

Readings will be placed on Reserve.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site 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


Teaching at SFU in spring 2021 will be conducted primarily through remote methods. There will be in-person course components in a few exceptional cases where this is fundamental to the educational goals of the course. Such course components will be clearly identified at registration, as will course components that will be “live” (synchronous) vs. at your own pace (asynchronous). Enrollment acknowledges that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes. To ensure you can access all course materials, we recommend you have access to a computer with a microphone and camera, and the internet. In some cases your instructor may use Zoom or other means requiring a camera and microphone to invigilate exams. If proctoring software will be used, this will be confirmed in the first week of class.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112).