Over the last half century or so, a vast body of knowledge(s) on the region has evolved within South Asia that mostly remain within the countries of their origin due to a number of reasons. In this specific context, there is a crucial need to share some of this knowledge in contemporary times when, despite assertions of localizations and mini-narratives, the universal does retain its emphasis through a constant dialectics of the two. The debate between the local and universal or mini-narratives and meta-narratives continue to rage, and is more clearly visible in within the South Asian context. Even so, we are acutely aware of the non-existence of regular and serious forums for South Asian scholarship in social sciences to showcase our own research and thinking. We are also quite conscious of the fact that the process of establishing sociology in the region has created its own peculiarities which has established close inter-relationships between sociology and social anthropology, history, cultural studies, archeology and other related disciplines. We consider the porousness of South Asian sociology one of its most enduring strengths. On the other hand, we are not unaware of the unfortunate regressions sociology has experienced in different South Asian contexts over the last 30 years or so marked by numerous institutional failures.
It is within the context(s) outlined above that the Department of Sociology at South Asian University began its contributions to teaching, training and knowledge production in 2011. The department not only provides a forum for the production of cutting-edge intellectual knowledge and exchange of that knowledge traversing across national borders in South Asia and beyond, but also strives through this knowledge to dislocate the persistence of an imposed framework emanating from the colonisation process and postcolonial politics of knowledge. Despite the passage of over fifty years since the process of official decolonization began in the region, much of the readings of our problems, issues and histories originate from Euro American academia. This is very clearly visible when taking into account conceptual formulations and theoretical approaches that are utilized in exploring the region’s social and cultural complexities.
The Department of Sociology strongly believes in the need to reformulate this situation by effectively centering South Asia without naively shunning thought from these established centers of knowledge be they in Europe or North America. We believe in an active and robust engagement with these issues within South Asia. In this context, through the work of its faculty and the research of graduate students, the Department creates a forum for the newer forms of knowledge that comprehends and represents the South Asian context with a more authoritative and nuanced voice. We strongly believe in the need to actively intervene in the process of knowledge formation through a constant sharing of knowledge that the region produces as well as through interaction with the world beyond the region.
The courses taught in the department as well as the research carried out by its faculty members reflect this overall vision and our collective commitment towards innovation, move beyond untenable stereotypes, and explore a new world of knowledge within the discipline of Sociology.
Our expectations are essentially formulated within the mission outlined above. We will strive to offer the best possible and the most nuanced and creative teaching program in sociology in the region. We expect our students to make the most of what we have to offer. We hope that the two years students spend with us would be an enriching intellectual experience for all of us. In this context, we invite our students to carry on active dialogues with our faculty members within and beyond the classroom. However, the department should not only be perceived as forum for formal knowledge in sociology. We encourage our students to also consider our department an active forum for their creative energies, be that writing, drama, music, dance, photography, blogging or anything else. On our part, we would continue to find avenues for these energies within and beyond the department as we have already done to a certain extent.
We are confident that the training as well as the cultural and social experience we offer will open avenues for our students for further advanced training in the region or beyond as well as employment opportunities in the public, private and civil society sectors in the region.