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India in the Age of Asian Empires surveys the history of South Asia from the earliest periods of history to 1757 in the context of empire. India has been at the centre of world culture and trade for millennia. South Asia has been the location of great empires, such as the Mauryas, Guptas and Mughals; has provided cultural and religious foundations for empires of southeast Asia and in turn has received cultural, political and religious influences from its neighbours in the middle east, central Asia and China. The course begins with the physical environment of South Asia, then goes on to examine Indus culture; the development of the Hindu tradition, Jainism, Buddhism; the arrival of Islam; the establishment of the Mughal empire; the role India played in the competition of the Portuguese, Dutch and English for control of the spice trade; and how a trading company took control of large parts of the subcontinent. As well as tracing major historical and political events, the course also explores the social and cultural developments that accompanied and contributed to the development of South Asia and its role within the development of Asian civilisations. It provides the necessary background knowledge to understand the later processes of colonisation and state formation in South Asia within its Asian context and introduces changing conceptions of the past of South Asia through examining the current major scholarly debates on issues in pre-colonial South Asian history.
Photo credit: Premnath Thirumalaisamy (Creative Commons