Defining South Asia

I took a course on the Government and Politics of South Asia at the School of Oriental African Studies (SOAS) in London during my year abroad — the first term covered India, while the second term covered Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Burma and Afghanistan.

“Why are we covering Afghanistan?” was one of the first questions, to everyones surprise. “Isn’t it part of central Asia?” she went on.

It’s an interesting question, though one I would have never thought of asking. I study South Asia and the Middle East. A country like Afghanistan would for me fall into one of those categories. But now there’s a third possibility that emerges.

It’s a confusing world that we live in: this summer I worked with GlobalPost, where both Afghanistan and Pakistan came under the “Middle East.”

The world as I knew it was being distorted. Deconstructed. But it also forced me to finally ask the inevitable: what is the purpose of assigning such categories? It’s not a simply geographic answer. It’s geostrategic, or geo-political, whatever you want to call it.

For me an Indian, whose grandparents crossed the Indo-Pak border from Lahore, I say, how can you not lump India and Pakistan in the same category? After all if you study  history prior to 1947 after all, there was no geographic boundary. It’s the South Asian subcontinent.

But then what about Afghanistan? If you’re working in a newsroom in the U.S., covering contemporary stories, there’s a broader purpose for assigning Afghanistan and Pakistan to the same category too.

It’s a dynamic world that we live in. Diplomacy and politics on the ground are constantly working to change relationships between nations. To create new nations and new boundaries, out of which arise new categories.

So where does South Asia start and where does it end? Also are boundaries as porous as we like to describe them thanks to globalization? If you’re India and Pakistan the simple answer would be no, if you’re Afghanistan and Pakistan the answer may be more complex.

There is scope for endless categorization when it comes to the confusing and expansive region of South Asia. But there’s always a purpose behind why we choose to include or not include some countries under certain demarcators. What’s interesting is to ask “why” and try to understand the historical and present circumstances at work, that shape these categories and our own understanding the world as we know it. Don’t just take it for granted.

For now, here’s map that might provide you with some answers. It’s the map which my professor at SOAS sent us, in response to the question on the first day of class.

Also, for the purpose of this blog, and the SAPAC group, we do choose to include Afghanistan in South Asia!

 

Avatar of Saanya Gulati

About Saanya Gulati

Saanya Gulati is a senior at Tufts University from India, majoring in International Relations and Sociology.
This entry was posted in Politics and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Defining South Asia

  1. I recently came across your article and have been reading along. I want to express my admiration of your writing skill and ability to make readers read from the beginning to the end. I would like to read newer posts and to share my thoughts with you.

  2. excellent put up, very informative. I’m wondering why the opposite experts of this sector do not notice this. You should continue your writing. I am confident, you have a huge readers’ base already!

  3. Its just like you read my mind! You manage to know so much related to this, really like you wrote the book in it or something. It is my opinion that you could do with some pics to drive your message home a little, but aside from that, surely stellar blog..

  4. Thanks using the information, I rarely like it.

  5. I simply wanted to write down a remark in order to say thanks to a person for those wonderful suggestions you’re supplying only at that website. My long internet search has at the end of the day already been compensated along with really good details to switch with my personal visitors. We deb report that a lot of us readers are unquestionably endowed in order to dwell in a significant website along with lots of fantastic professionals with advantageous tips. Personally i think very blessed to have run into all pages and posts and look forward to many more thrilling occasions reading here. Thank you once more for the details.

  6. Excellent subject. I’ve discovered a good deal a new challenge the following. Carry on.

  7. Pingback: men's brand

  8. film izle says:

    Do you mind if I quote a couple of your posts as long as I provide credit and sources back to your site? My blog is in the exact same area of interest as yours and my visitors would definitely benefit from a lot of the information you provide here. Please let me know if this alright with you. Appreciate it!

  9. Pingback: Search Engine Friendly

  10. Pingback: voetbal wedden

  11. Pingback: flv to avi mac

  12. Jane Somner says:

    It’s seldom that I make it through material on this subject, but I was drawn into this article. Your wording and well-made points made it easy to read for me.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>