Academic year
2022/2023 Syllabus of previous years
Official course title
Course code
LMH070 (AF:368575 AR:214324)
Blended (on campus and online classes)
ECTS credits
Degree level
Master's Degree Programme (DM270)
Educational sector code
2nd Semester
Course year
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The course offers a theoretical approach to the study of the environmental history of South Asia through socio-anthropological and ethnographic scientific literature, with particular attention to indigenous issues, human rights and forestry policies. The study aims to provide a practical reading of key moments in Indian history, based mainly on environmental perspectives, the study of the Indian territory and society, with the support of several specific case studies. A section dedicated to reading and understanding the environmental component in Hindu and Buddhist literature and spirituality is included.
The course is designed to provide students with the necessary means to do scientific research in the field of environmental history of India. Therefore the students completing the semester are expected to possess almost a complete knowledge of the state of the art of this subject, particularly in the perspectives of cultural anthropology, history and religious-studies. It is also considered necessary that they achieve mastery on methodological and critical tools to develop their own personal view on the topic and to possibly plan further research projects.
No preliminar knowledge required. It is nevertheless advisable to possess a basic knowledge of History of India. In any case, the means to acquire a general overview about the main periods and key events in the history of the Indian Subcontinent will be provided during the course.
General introduction to the course, hydrogeology, environment and climate of the Indian subcontinent. The idea of environment in the first civilizations of India and in Hinduism/Buddhism. The Forest as epic introspection and spirituality. Environment in medieval India and in the Mughal era. Forestry policies: from the colonial period to Gandhi's thought. Environmental history of Nepal. Economic development of India (from the 1990/91 crisis to today) and environmental sustainability. Indigenous (Adivasi) resilience movements: from Plachimada to the Narmada River. Development of agriculture in India with particular focus on Bt cotton and the GMO Case. Tiger project and forest reserves. "Indigenous knowledge on the forest", shamanism, ecological thinking and sustainability (several case studies). Vandhana Shiva and ecofeminism. Humans and animals on the roads of India: a case study on hygiene and health. Eco-health in the Anthropocene: local and global problems in South Asia
Mandatory texts and handouts will be provided by the teacher during the course.

A basic textbook of the history of India is recommended as supplementary material.
(Kulke/Rothermund, History of India, Routledge
Torri, Storia dell'India, Laterza
Keay, India a History, Harper Collins
Metcalf/Metclaf, A Concise History of Modern India, Cambridge, etc)

Other recommended and elective texts:
Baviskar, Amita, In the Belly of the River: Tribal Conflicts over Development in the Narmada Valley, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2002.
Bhagwat Shonil, Conservation and Development in India: Reimagining Wilderness, London: Routledge, 2018
Chapple, Christopher Key and Mary Evelyn Tucker (Eds.), Hinduism and Ecology. The Intersection of Earth, Sky, and Water, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2000.
Ferrari, Fabrizio & Dahnhardt, Thomas (eds), Charming Beauties and Frightful Beasts Non-Human Animals in South Asian Myth, Ritual and Folklore, Sheffield: Equinox, 2013
Ferrari, Fabrizio & Dahnhardt, Thomas (eds), Roots of Wisdom, Branches of Devotion. Plant Life in South Asian Traditions, Sheffield: Equinox, 2016
Ghosh, Amitav, The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2016.
Govindrajan Radhika, Animal Intimacies. Interspecies Relatedness in India’s Central Himalayas, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2018
Guha Ramachandra The Unquiet Woods: Ecological Change and Peasant Resistance in the Himalaya, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1989.
Ingold Tim (ed.), What is an animal?, London: Routledge, 1988.
Kapur, Nandini Sinha (Ed.) Environmental History of Early India, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2011.
Kumar, Deepak, Damodaran, Vinita, D’Souza, Rohan (Eds.) British Empire and the Natural World, Environmental Encounters in South Asia, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2011.
Lahiri-Dutt, Kuntala & Robert J. Watson (Eds.) Water First: Issues and Challenges for Nations and Communities in South Asia, New Delhi: Sage, 2008.
Nugteren Albertina, Belief, Bounty, and Beauty: Rituals around Sacred Trees in India, Leiden: Brill, 2005.
Rangarajan, Mahesh A., Environmental Issues in India: a Reader, New Delhi: Pearson Longman, 2012
Riboli, Diana; Pamela, Stewart J; Strathern, Andrew; Torri, Davide (eds) , Dealing with Disasters. Perspectives from Eco-Cosmologies, Cham: Palgrave McMillan, 2020
Siegel, Benjamin R., Hungry Nation. Food, Famine and the Making of Modern India, Cambirdge: Cambridge University Press, 2018
Shiva, Vandana, The Violence of the Green Revolution, London: Zed Books, 2nd Impression, 1993.
Tucker Richard P., A Forest History of India, New Delhi: Sage, 2012.
The exam will consist of an oral discussion of ca. 30 minutes, during which the student is expected to show his ability in exposing and critically debating the topics treated during classes; hence, utmost importance will be given to the notes taken during classes, which will significantly complement the texts listed in the above bibliography. By agreement with the teacher, it is also possible to submit a written essay that replace the oral exam.
Conventional class. Discussions and insights on the different topics will be offered and encouraged each week through the forum provided by the e-learning moodle platform of the course.
Students are strongly advised to attend classes regularly.

This subject deals with topics related to the macro-area "Natural capital and environmental quality" and contributes to the achievement of one or more goals of U. N. Agenda for Sustainable Development

Definitive programme.
Last update of the programme: 24/01/2023