Report from Uppsala
Report from Staffan Lindbergs
and Jan Magnussons visit to
Uppsala University, December, 18, 2000
On December 18 Staffan and Jan went to Uppsala University to meet and discuss with South Asia researchers there. The meeting was housed at the Dept. of Asian and African Languages and hosted by Gunilla Gren-Eklund, Professor of Indology, esp. Sanskrit.
Present at the meeting:
Gunilla Gren-Eklund, Dept. of Afro-Asian Languages, Uppsala University
Beppe Karlsson, Seminar for Development Studies, Uppsala University
Eva Hellman, Faculty of Theology, Uppsala University
Premila Perera Ivarsson, Dept. of Pharmacology, Uppsala University
Malin Åkerblom, International Science Program, Uppsala University
Anna-Pya Sjödin, Dept. of Indology, Uppsala University
Kay Svensson, Faculty of Theology, Uppsala University
Mirja Juntunen, Dept. of Indology, Stockholm University
Ashok Swain, Dept. of Peace and Conflict Research, Uppsala University
Sten Widmalm, Dept. of Government, Uppsala University
Hans Blomkvist, Dept. of Government, Uppsala University
Gösta Johnsen, Uppsala University Library
Staffan Lindberg, SASNET, Lund University
Jan Magnusson, SASNET, Lund University
Gunilla Gren-Eklund greeted the participants and emphasized the cooperation between faculties that has emerged in South Asian studies at Uppsala University. There seems to be a lot of ideas and cooperation around South Asian studies at the moment, she said.
Plans for Master´s course
Gunilla then described a plan for a Masters course in South Asian studies at Uppsala University. The resources in South Asian studies were taken stock of in connection with Uppsala Universitys application to Sida to take responsibility for a national center for South Asian studies. But the Masters course was initiated even before that.
The present plan is a two-year Masters course modelled on a similar course in International Studies. The Board of the Domain for Humanities and Social Sciences has approved the course and allocated money for 10 new full time students every semester, starting from the fall semester of 2001.
Hans Blomkvist sketched the four-semester-course on the whiteboard:
Introduction 10p, Hindi 20p, Specialization 10p, Paper 10p, Hindi 10p, Hindi 10p, Fieldwork 10p.
Specialization can be made in the following subjects:
History, Anthropology, Peace and Conflict Research, Political Economy, Political Science, Sociology of Religion, Indology.
To be eligible students have to have 40p in any subject.
There are currently attempts to persuade different departments to include the specialization courses in their curriculum as independent courses. A course home page will come up on the Internet.
Different models discussed
A short discussion of different models for Masters degrees followed before the question of available resources was brought up. The home base for the course will be the Faculty of Languages and the Dept of Asian and African Languages will admit maximum 20 full-time students in 2001.
The annual budget is around SEK 600 000. Teachers, except for in Hindi which will have a permanent teacher, will be brought in for shorter periods of time. At the moment there is no Hindi teacher and the organizers are searching for a new one.
This was followed by a discussion of the necessity of 40p Hindi in the course. Gunilla and Hans argued that language is the only way to access South Asian cultures, although Malin pointed out that Hindi only provides access to one South Asian country. What about Bengali, Tamil, Urdu, Punjabi etc?
A problem is of course the availability of teachers. It would be ideal to be able to teach all these languages, but apart from the lack of teachers, there would also be too few students. Gunilla said that culture and language is a basic relationship. India has a cultural tradition with no renaissance or enlightenment.
Its cultural heritage is so vital that even Sanskrit is needed to understand it. Jan mentioned that a similar discussion is going on at other SASNET nodes and urged the participants to discuss the issue in one of the discussion groups at SASNETs website.
Gunilla and Kay spoke about Uppsala Universitys policy of cutting down costs and activities to be able to concentrate resources more efficiently. New priorities are presently under consideration. In any case Gunilla said that South Asian studies, based on language training, have high priority. Her chair will be reconsidered when she retires in two years and the faculty wants to keep Indology.
Report on Nordic Center in Delhi
Gunilla reported about the Nordic Center in Delhi for which she is in the Working Group. An apartment has been rented in East Nizamuddin, New Delhi. Right now the group is discussing different kinds of membership like full/associate member and differentiated fees. Staffan added that that it is important to use this resource and fill it with activity. SASNET is ready to support network activities on application.
A discussion took place on the problems scientists may have getting visas to the south asian countries and what role SASNET could play concerning this.
After the coffee break most of the participants left the meeting. The remaining participants continued to discuss Masters courses and the role of language.
Beppe Karlsson asked about a coordination of visiting lecturers in South Asian studies. Hans suggested that SASNET could organize tours. Let the network suggest names, pay the lecturers travel and accommodation expenses, and pay him/her a fee. It could be called "The Annual SASNET Lecture" or something like that. Preferably the person who is invited can also be a resource person for SASNET and evaluate its activities.
Finally there was a short discussion about regulating the competition between Masters courses in South Asian studies by giving them different profiles. In that way the courses wont interfere with each others recruitment, it was argued.
Transcribed from minutes taken by Jan Magnusson.