Understanding Hinduphobia

Course Description:
The term Hinduphobia has been in circulation since the late nineteenth century and the phenomenon has been experienced and discussed in Hindu community spaces and literature for generations. However, the formal academic study of Hinduphobia remains sparse, in no small part due to Western academic consensus that Hinduism is foundationally flawed and suspect. This gap between community experience and knowledge and academic discourse about Hinduism sits at the heart of Hinduphobia. Recently, with the development of the Working Definition of Hinduphobia* pathways for a more methodical academic study have come clearly into view. The definition offers an operationalization of the phenomenon, creating a supporting framework for historical, theoretical, and empirical examination and discussion. This course serves as a starting point for those who are interested in learning how to identify and unpack Hinduphobia and effectively and cogently articulate analyses in formal and informal learning and community spaces.

(* ​​https://understandinghinduphobia.org/working-definition/)

Course Content:
We’ll begin the course with an analysis of the Working Definition of Hinduphobia, starting with Academia’s master narrative that Hinduism is oppressive, backwards, and irredeemable. We will then examine, through primary and secondary texts, the history of Hinduphobia during the British Colonial era, its concurrent role in the early formation of the United States, and the relationship of these phenomena to an emergent theory about Hinduphobia’s “stickiness.” This entire study will serve as the foundation for the remainder of the course. We will explore the manifestation and integration of Hinduphobia in social institutions, including school textbooks, news media, entertainment media, social media, and the yoga industry.


Course Learning Objectives:
After taking this course, students will be able to:
● Construct comparisons between historical and contemporary Hinduphobia
● Integrate the Working Definition of Hinduphobia into critical analyses of academic and popular discourse about Hinduism and Hindu people
● Examine media, text, and institutions through the critical lens of Hinduphobia
● Create media that unpacks contemporary Hinduphobia with a high level of rigor and evidence

Class Structure:
The course is designed to be highly interactive and multimodal. Courses will be taught in a hybrid lecture/seminar style and will include some guest speakers. Active participation is central to the design, and regular attendance is expected. Each class session will last one hour. Outside of class, students will read primary and secondary texts, identify, and pursue their own inquiry topic, and create multimodal media artifacts as a final project. Required work outside of class will take an average of two hours per week, with the exception of the final project.

Area of Study: Hindu Studies Foundation

Core/ Elective: Core

Prerequisites: Admission into program of study

Instructor:  Dr. Indu Viswanathan

Days: Monday and Thursday

Time: 09:00 pm EST – 10:30 pm EST

Start Date: July 21, 2022

End Date: August 22, 2022

Quarter Offered: Summer 2022