What You Need to Know About Cinematic Culture and the Depiction of Muslims in South Asia

Sunera Full Banner 1200 x 370

Term One – ASIA 438: The Cinematic Lives of Muslims in South Asia


Register now

Winter 2017
No ASIA course(s) were found for W2017 term.

This 400 level course introduces students to the study of film as this media has informed culture, politics and subjectivity in the South Asian context. Film was introduced in South Asia during the British era, but media scholars concur this cinema is not derivative. Indeed, with its indigenization, cinema became indispensable to postcolonial state and nation-formation.

Drawing on the interdisciplinary traditions of South Asian media studies, postcolonial and cultural studies, as well as feminist and sexuality studies, this course teaches students to historicize and contextualize cinematic representation as we trace the major shifts in postcolonial depictions of Muslims. Given that ‘Bollywood’ is the most voluminous film industry in the region, this course has a particular focus on Hindi cinema.

Madhubala_in_the_1949_film_Dulari 1200 x 630

Madhubala (14 February 1933 – 23 February 1969) -also known as “The Beauty with Tragedy” and “The Venus of Indian Cinema”- is a highly regarded Indian film actress who appeared in classic Hindi films from 1942 to 1960. This is her from Dulari (1949), a film directed by A. R. Kardar.

This course teaches you how to define and apply key concepts and theories in South Asian film and media studies, as well as identify and deconstruct cinematic depictions of Muslims to study how these inform national and transnational political discourses. Course assignments will encourage students to critically analyze how the cinematic Muslim helps mediate the relation between nation and gender, religion and culture, and politics and sexuality.  Students will be supported in developing their critical thinking and media literacy skills as related to the study of gender, sexuality and religion, they will also be given valuable opportunities to enhance their research, presentation and writing skills.  Films for the course will be screened with English subtitles.

Term Two – ASIA 310B: Issues in Contemporary South Asian Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies


Register now

Winter 2017
No ASIA course(s) were found for W2017 term.

This 300 level course introduces students to the interdisciplinary field of South Asian Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies. A key aspect of colonial governance was the construction of South Asia and its heterogeneous populations as gendered in ‘traditional’ ways. We will explore how this construct functions within contemporary scholarship, which likewise identifies gender and sexuality as central to postcolonial nation, state and subject formation in South Asia, as elsewhere.

Beginning with a brief survey of the foundational texts and concepts, the course delineates the major theoretical traditions that informed the postcolonial study of the category ‘woman’. Students will be introduced to the concept of ‘intersectionality’ to problematize the conflation of ‘woman’ with gender and sex as we examine how the relations of class, race, caste, ethnicity and religion complicate understandings of the category ‘woman’. We will then study recent advances in the field of South Asian gender and sexuality studies that have identified masculinities, sexuality, sexual orientation and queerness – along with femininities and heteronormativity – as gendered concerns.
Amrita_Sger-Gil_Bride's_Toilet 1200 x 630

Bride’s Toilet (1937) by Amrita Sher-Gil captures perfectly the complexities of the formations of gender, sexuality and class that we will study in this course.  South Asia has a strong and rich tradition of scholarship and activism on women’s rights, as well as on the social relations of gender and sexuality.

This course will help students to define and critically engage key concepts and theories in South Asian women’s, gender and sexuality studies, and to understand and discuss a range of perspectives on how gender and sexuality are connected to empire, race, post/colonialism and diaspora. Students will also learn to identify and apply intersectional and transnational approaches to the study of gender and sexuality in South Asia and elsewhere. Course assignments will support students to develop their critical thinking, communication, research and writing skills.

Who will be teaching this course

cropped-Sunera_Thobani_resizedSunera Thobani is Associate Professor in the Department of Asian Studies and the Institute of Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice at the University of British Columbia. Her teaching and research focus on post/colonial, critical race and feminist theory; she studies issues related to globalization, violence, migration, citizenship, media and Muslim women.