Module and Programme Catalogue

Search site

Find information on

This module is inactive in the selected year. The information shown below is for the academic year that the module was last running in, prior to the year selected.

2017/18 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

HIST3736 Caste and Politics in 20th Century India

20 creditsClass Size: 14

Module manager: Jesus F. Chairez-Garza

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2017/18

This module is approved as a discovery module

Module summary

This course examines the enduring connection between caste and politics in India during the twentieth century. The course starts with an introduction to the history of caste as a concept. This is followed by an analysis of the political implications of caste from the era of British colonialism to the first years of India as an independent country. Particular attention is paid to the rise of popular movements that found in caste, usually thought as system of oppression, a form of political organization that allowed them to challenge hierarchical structures of power. By analysing a selection of important primary and secondary sources, the course shows the multifarious ways in which colonial and Indian intellectuals thought and transformed the concept of caste to pursue different political objectives. This course also evaluates the way caste may shape and expand our understating of democracy in present day politics, both in India and abroad.


On completion of this module, students should be able to:
1) Analyse and comment on the primary and secondary sources they have studied.
2) Understand the main historical debates around the question of caste in the twentieth century.
3) Comment on the different political implications of caste during the struggle for India’s independence.
4) Develop an in-depth historical argument about the connection between caste and democracy in India.
5) Be aware of the history of low-caste political movements in India.

Learning outcomes
1) High-level skills in oral and written communication of complex ideas.
2) Independence of mind, self-discipline and self-direction to work effectively under own initiative.
3) Ability to locate, handle and synthesize large amounts of information.
4) Capacity to employ analytical and problem-solving abilities.
5) Empathy and active engagement with alternative cultural contexts.


1) Introduction
2) Understanding the concept of caste
3) Caste and colonialism: Was caste a colonial invention?
4) Caste and the nation: What role did caste play at the beginning of the national movement?
5) Challenging caste hierarchy in politics: The anti-Brahmin movement
6) The rise of low-caste politics: Phule and Periyar
7) The emergence of the Untouchable movement: B.R. Ambedkar and M.C. Rajah
8) Untouchability and the nation: M.K. Gandhi and Ambedkar
9) Untouchables as political subjects: Congress and the Untouchable vote
10) Caste after independence I: Reservation and the rise of the OBC’s
11) Caste after independence II: The Dalit panthers and the Bahujan Samaj Party
12) Conclusion and overview

Teaching methods

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours178.00
Total Contact hours22.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Students will prepare for each seminar by reading a range of primary and secondary sources. They will also be expected to engage and participate in seminar discussions.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Feedback on written work and oral presentations.
Essay consultations and preparation with the Module Leader.
Participation in class discussion.

Methods of assessment

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Project3 x 500 word seminar essay10.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)40.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Unseen exam 2 hr 00 mins60.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)60.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 19/09/2017


Browse Other Catalogues

Errors, omissions, failed links etc should be notified to the Catalogue Team.PROD

© Copyright Leeds 2019