REL/ECON 246 - Caste at the Intersection of Economy, Religion, and Law
4 credits (FDR SS-4)
4 weeks in Nepal
Prof. Tim Lubin and Prof. Shikha Silwal
Social hierarchy touches every aspect of life, and South Asia's traditional caste structure is a special case: this highly complex, strictly observed system has been religiously legitimized and criticized over a 3,000-year history, and is nowadays seen as being at odds with the modern world. Yet it remains a crucial factor in social identity, economic roles, legal status and religious practice. The course addresses these four themes, providing historical background, social scientific analysis of the modern situation, and direct field experience for the students in Nepal.
A beautiful, mountainous country with a population mostly of Hindus and Buddhists (including many Tibetan refugees), Nepal has undergone some major changes in its recent history. After emerging from a decade of civil war in 2006, the country abolished its 239-year-old monarchy in 2008, and a new constitution was finally approved in 2015. Amidst all these changes, the system of caste discrimination has taken a central stage, which makes it a very timely topic.
We will stay at the Tewa Centre in Kirtipur, just across the river from the nation's capital, Kathmandu. Field experience in both rural and urban settings, visiting speakers who are experts in their fields, and trips to temples, mountain towns, traditional villages, a wildlife sanctuary and the birthplace of the Buddha will round out the learning experience.
Major/Minor credit: Religion, Economics (with prior completion of Econ 101), Shepherd Poverty Program (in consultation with Prof. Howard Pickett). The course also counts toward the minor in Women's Gender, and Sexuality Studies.
Program fee (paid to W&L): $3,900. This covers airfare, ground transportation, room and board..
Estimated Additional Expenses: $100 (Nepal visa) and personal spending money.