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Sociology and Anthropology Programme

The undergraduate programme in Sociology and Anthropology (SOA) at Ashoka University is designed for students interested in cultivating an intellectually rigorous understanding of diverse social worlds and processes as they emerge, stabilise, transform and dissolve all around us. 


The Department acknowledges the unique relationship between sociology and social anthropology as it has developed and flourished in India. While our faculty is actively engaged in long-term fieldwork and ethnographic research across a range of subjects and sites, as a collective, we emphasise the critical empiricism, theoretical engagement and comparative approach central to our best disciplinary traditions In doing so, we continuously work at and move between multiple scales and modes of analysis: across the ‘micro’ and the ‘macro’, the ‘general’ and the ‘particular’, the ‘local’ and the ‘global’, the ‘social’ and the ‘technical’, the ‘material’ and ‘abstract’, and the ‘qualitative’ and ‘quantitative’.

Our research and pedagogical practices also open up numerous possibilities for interdisciplinary explorations with students and scholars in allied fields of social thought and inquiry, including, history, economics, political science, psychology, philosophy, linguistics, environmental studies, computer science, planning and design, natural sciences, arts and aesthetics, law and media. This makes Sociology and Anthropology at once among the most grounded and fluid disciplines in the contemporary university. 

The Undergraduate Major in Sociology and Anthropology

The Sociology and Anthropology Major at Ashoka will train future scholars and professionals to be engaged observers, attentive readers, clear writers, and rigorous social analysts.  Over the course of their study, our students will develop a critical awareness of changing social values and practices, the capacity to think relationally, and the skills to draw out vital but often invisible connections. In this way, they will learn how to describe and explain complex social processes. Above all, we are convinced that our students will engage with the world and come to inhabit it in ways that open up new possibilities for shaping shared futures. These possibilities are at the heart of what we think it means to nurture an anthropological imagination.

SOA Majors must complete 12 courses in the discipline to graduate with a B.A. in Sociology and Anthropology. All students will take 6 (out of a set of 8) compulsory courses specially designed to introduce them to the “core” fields of the discipline: key concepts and themes that are at the centre of both classical and contemporary work in Sociology and Anthropology. Building on and out from these courses, Majors will then select a series of 6 electives from a wide range of course offerings. All SOA courses, both cores and electives, will create space for students to explore their own, individual interests and questions, but the electives are especially intended to give advanced undergraduates a sense of the breadth of the discipline and the frontiers of anthropological research. The set of core courses also includes a hands-on Research Methods course that all Majors will take in their third year. Instead of confining the Sociology and Anthropology of India to a single course, the study of India and South Asia will be woven in throughout the curriculum and critical themes (such as caste, hierarchy and stratification) will be explored in multiple and interrelated courses.

Core Courses

SOA 1101: Sociology and the Making of Concepts is our ‘Gateway Course’ and may be taken in the first or second year at Ashoka. It is compulsory for all SOA Majors, who must complete this course by the end of the second year.

In addition, Majors are required to take at least 4 of the following 6 courses. Most Majors will complete this set of courses in their second year, but they can be taken in any order depending on student interest and course sequencing in a given year. Students have the option and are encouraged to take all 6 courses in this set should they wish to do so.


SOA 2101: State, Stateless Societies and the Problems of Power 


SOA 2102: Gift, Commodity and the Exchange of Value 


SOA 2103: Magic, Science, Religion 


SOA 2104: Kin, Friends and Enemies


SOA 2105: Language, Signs and the Problems of Representation


SOA 2106: Nature’s Futures


SOA 3101: Anthropology’s Methods is a research methods course specially designed for our Majors. Although there is no thesis requirement for the 3rd years, all students will learn research and proposal-writing skills in this course. Students planning to stay on for a fourth year to complete an Advanced Major in Sociology and Anthropology will use this course to develop proposals for their thesis fieldwork and research projects. 


Electives will emerge from and deepen student engagement with the concepts and approaches developed in the core courses while drawing on diverse faculty and student interests. Electives will be designed as advanced undergraduate seminar courses. 

Majors will take a total of 6 electives, of which at least 4 must be 3000-level courses. 2 courses can be chosen from the remaining 2000-level ‘cores’ or from the electives on offer. 


The elective course offerings will change from year to year, but the list below provides a sense of the range and depth of the electives that our faculty members have taught in the past and are excited to develop and teach in future semesters at Ashoka.


Language and Power in South Asia


Visuality, Power, and Truth


• Being Human: Anthropology and the Anthropocene


• The Right to Water


• Political Ecology and Modes of Resistance


• Agrarian Worlds


• Cities, Villages, and What Lies Between 


• The Anthropology of 'Remoteness': Highlands, Islands and Rainforests


• Questioning Development


• What is Globalisation? 


• Work, Labour, Industry


• Market Ethnographies


• Fiscal Anthropology


• Nationalism, Ethnicity, Violence


• Freedom and Sovereignty


• Hierarchy


• Local Bureaucracies and the Everyday State


• Trajectories of Capital


• The Cultural Politics of Space, Place and Time


• Borders and Crossings


• Travel, Mobility and Identity


• Gender, Sexuality and The Body


• War and Media


• Cybersociality


• Data, Algorithms and the Anthropology of Numbers


• The Anthropology of Dreams


• Islam and Anthropology


• The Secular and the Sacral


• Medicine and Society


• Anthropology of Mental Health 


• Anthropology, Archive and History


• Anthropology and Allied Arts


• Anthropology and Philosophy


• Statistics for Sociologists 

The Ashoka Scholars Program (4th year) in Sociology and Anthropology

The fourth-year will allow Majors to pursue an independent, original and closely supervised research project, which will culminate in an undergraduate thesis. For obtaining an Advanced Diploma in Sociology and Anthropology, students need to submit a proposal in March. Detailed guidelines for the proposal will be shared with third years during the Monsoon semester. The following are the guidelines for those considering the Advanced Major in Sociology and Anthropology:


  • The course, Anthropology’s Methods, will help prospective Advanced Majors to develop research proposals and plans. Fieldwork can be conducted over the summer between semesters 6 & 7 continuing into semester 7. 

  • In addition to working under the guidance of a faculty advisor, Advanced Majors will participate in a Monsoon and Spring Thesis Workshop, each for four credits. These will be intensive weekly sessions facilitated by different members of the faculty and will focus on critical aspects of the research process: framing questions, fieldwork methods, data analysis, working on annotated bibliographies, developing anthropological arguments, and ethnographic writing. Students will make regular presentations and share their writing. 

  • The final thesis should be between 10,000-15,000 words and cover eight credits (4 each semester). The faculty advisor will evaluate the thesis. 

  • Fourth-years will also have the opportunity to gain experience as Teaching Assistants (with a minimum of 2 credits of Teaching Practicum). 

  • The ASP cohort will also organise (for two credits per student) an annual Symposium hosted by the department and conceptualised, curated and organised by the fourth-year students. 

  • To complete the required 32 credits, fourth-years will be able to take an additional three departmental electives to broaden and deepen their engagement with the discipline.

The Department also welcomes students who wish to stay on for a fourth year at Ashoka and utilise the Ashoka Scholars Programme (ASP) to complete a Concentration, Minor or Second Major Equivalent in Sociology and Anthropology as well as those fourth years keen to expand their intellectual exploration through our course offerings beyond formal requirements — graduating as a Major student from the Department is required to write a thesis with the Department.

Year Advisors

To help you navigate through your journey with the Sociology and Anthropology Department at Ashoka University, we have decided to have year wise faculty advisors. They will help you understand the curriculum, requirements, course selection, etc throughout the year. The following are the faculty members that you can contact, depending on which year you are in:


Rising First Years:  Prof. Mekhala Krishnamurthy 

Rising Second Years: Prof. Ravindran Sriramachandran

Rising Third Years: Prof. Kathryn Collins Hardy

Course Offerings - Monsoon 2019

The following courses are being offered by the department in Monsoon 2019


SOA-1101 Sociology and the Making of Concepts (Introduction to Sociology and Anthropology) (Required Course)

Prof. Deepak Mehta


SOA-2101 State, Stateless Societies and the Problems of Power (Social Theory 1) (Required Course)

Prof. Swargajyoti Gohain


SOA-2102 Gift, Commodity and the Exchange of Value (Social Theory 2) (Required Course)

Prof. Mekhala Krishnamurthy


SOA-2104 Kin, Friends and Enemies (Required Course)

Prof. Kathryn Collins Hardy


SOA-3201 Nationalism, Ethnicity, Violence (Elective)

Prof. Ravindran Sriramachandran


SOA-3202 Borders and Crossings (Elective)

Prof. Swargajyoti Gohain


SOA- 3203 Islam and Anthropology (Elective)

Prof. Aditi Saraf


SOA-3204 Fiscal Anthropology (Elective)

Prof. Mekhala Krishnamurthy


HIS 318/SOA-3501 Tarzan and Mowgli: A History of Colonial Culture (Cross-listed Elective)

Prof. Aparna Vaidik


ES 306/SOA-3502 Decoding Genetically Modified Crops: The Global Politics of Agriculture and Biotechnology (Cross-listed Elective)

Prof. Aniket Aga 

SOA Handbook

For more information, refer to the handbook