Review Questions (Winter/Spring 2012)
While not exhaustive, these questions are meant to give you a good idea of the questions likely to be used on
the final exam.
Throughout the first lecture the class was introduced to Yi-fu Tuan and his notion that “Place is an organized
world of meaning”. Gosh’s was also mentioned as he stated that, “ In the geography of human history, no
culture is an island.” The first thing that comes to my mind when I read these quotes is my own perception of
geography; and geography to me is the study of land and its attributes. However Yi-fu and Gosh perceive
geography in a different manor then I do. My interpretation of Yi-fu quote is that when he mentions “Place is
an organized world of meaning”. He is referring to ………. Contemporary nations of South Asia was also an
important aspect through out the lecture as Bangladesh, Pakistan and India are all seen to contemporary
nations of South Asia.
Yi-fu Tuan writes, “Place is an organized world of meaning”. Amitav Ghosh writes, “In the geography of
human history, no culture is an island.” How do you understand these quotes taken from our syllabus?
(Mines and Lamb) Name the contemporary nations of South Asia. What is the “Orient” and why is it
important to our study of South Asia? What are the layers of history that have contributed to the cultures and
practices of South Asians? What are some ways that global values shape South Asia? And vice versa? (Jama
Masjid Street Journal) Did it strike you as odd that ancient and traditional ways were being practiced in this
modern city? Why did the people of Old Delhi make of the young Indian woman behind the camera?
(Thapar) How has the subcontinent been divided geographically? Characterize the regions. Why are river
valleys optimal areas for the rise of urban centres? What makes mountain passes, frontier zones, and coastal
areas such interesting places? Characterize the South Asian seasons. How long do they last? How does the
monsoon dominate agricultural and climactic conditions? (Chasing India’s Monsoon) Give some examples of
how the monsoon has entered “the Indian psyche”.
Describe some noteworthy features (aspects of culture, production, civic planning and organization, etc.) of
the Indus civilizations. What might explain such an urban explosion? Its subsequent decline? (Thapar)
Describe the categories of South Asian society. What do their evolving and changing interactions suggest
about the creation of castes? (India, Empire of the Spirit) “History is full of empires of the sword but India alone created an empire of the spirit.” Did India define their civilizational goals that differently from the
The study of India (and South Asia) has often been limited to that represented by its territory. How do the
examples of the Indus Valley and the Indian Ocean trade complicate this idea? What is Braudel’s idea of a
“world economy”? Does this differ from Wallerstein’s “capitalist world system”? (Ghosh) Describe
Mangalore. Why do Middle Eastern merchants come to South Asia? Characterize Ben Yiju. Why do you think
Ghosh might spend so much time describing the life of a slave? How does Ghosh describe the Indian Ocean
trade before and after Vasco Da Gama? What does Ghosh say about transnationalism, then and now?
(Srinivas) Explain this statement: “Agriculture was not only a means of earning a livelihood but a way of life”.
Describe why landownership meant so much to the people of Rampura? (Dadi’s Family) Who is Dadi and
what is her role? Can you briefly describe some aspects of life in rural Haryana--its economy, social
organization, and political life? In what ways might this village seem isolated (and not isolated) from towns
and cities? How is it part of a wider rural network of social relationships? What happens to daughters and
daughters-in law after marriage?
What is the meaning of “subaltern”? What was “Subaltern Studies”? Why and how did it recast the study of
India? How difficult is it to write “subaltern” history? Do you know of any attempts? (Cohn) How was the
process of state building in Great Britain seen as a cultural project? How did this involve India? Why were the
British interested in “knowing” India? What were “investigate modalities”? How and why did the British
employ them? Have you used any in your study of South Asia (or anything els