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Readings and Research in the Comparative Social Sciences 2013

Readings and Research in the Comparative Social Sciences
Second Semester 2013
Graduate Diploma in Social Sciences
Nepā School of Social Sciences and Humanities


Co-Instructors: Hari Sharma and Bandita Sijapati

Course Description
This course is designed to give students the theoretical and practical tools needed to engage in a theoretical dialogue cutting across disciplinary boundaries; understand the tenets of research methodology in the social sciences; cultivate an understanding of divergent methodological concerns; and undertake primary research to get some hands-on experience in conducting research in the social sciences.
The course will be divided into two parts—the first section of the course will involve a critical examination of different theories in the social sciences as well as research methodology while the second will be devoted to conducting actual research in a topic that is of current interest. For this semester, we will be focusing on migration, an issue that has been key in the transformation of Nepali society and polity. As such, the first part of the course will involve critical engagement with scholarly literature relating to migration and the second will be devoted to designing a research project—identifying research questions, formulating strategies for answering them, acquiring methodological tools with which to conduct the research, and actually conducting the research and preparing a report based on the findings.

Course Requirements and Grading

Participation (30%): The first part of the course, structured in a seminar style will require active contribution to discussion, sharing ideas and insights.  Students will be expected to do the assigned readings and come prepared for engaged discussions and dialogues.

Research Plan and Outline (10%): A research plan explaining the research project with clearly stated research questions, literature review and methodology will be due on Week 9.

Presentation of Research (10%): On Week 15, students are expected to share the findings from their research project.

Research Paper (50%): As the main output of this course, students are required to submit their final papers based on the research conducted during the course of the semester.

Detailed Course Outline

Week 1: Introduction (Hari Sharma)
Required Readings

Bolacchi, Giulio (2004) “On “Social Sciences” and Science”, Behaviour and Philosophy, Vol. 32, No. 2,  pp.  465-478.

Elster, Jon (2007) "Introduction" in Explaining Social Behavior: More Nuts and Bolts for the Social Sciences. NY: Cambridge University Press, pp. 1-31.

Kohli, Atul and Evans, Peter (1995) “The Role of Theory in Comparative Politics: A Symposium”, World Politics, Vol.48, No.1 (Oct., 1995), pp. 1-49.

Week 2: Understanding the State (Hari Sharma)
Required Readings
Fukuyama, Francis (2011) “The Coming of the Leviathan” in The Origin of Political Order: From Prehistoric Times to the French Revolution. London: Profile Books, pp. 80-94.

Poggi, Gianfranco (2001) “Formation and Form: Theories of State Formation” in Nash, Kate and Alan Scott (eds.) The Blackwell Companion to Political Sociology. London: Blackwell Publishing, pp. 95-106.

Week 3: The Formation and Evolution of Nepali State (Hari Sharma)
Required Readings
Regmi, Mahesh C. (1995) Kings and Political Leaders of the Gorkhali Empire 1768-1814. Hyderabad: Orient Longman Limited.

Pradhan, Kumar (1991) “Consequences and Conclusion” The Gorkha Conquests: The Process and Consequences of the Unification of Nepal with Particular reference to Eastern Nepal. OUP: New Delhi, pp. 154-204.

Week 4: State and Nation (Hari Sharma)
Required Readings
Burghart, Richard (1996) “The Formation of Concept of Nation-State in Nepal” in Fuller, C.J. and Jonathan Spencer (eds.) The Conditions of Listening: Essays on Religion, History and Politics in South Asia. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, pp. 226-260.

Sharma, Prayag Raj (2004) “Nation building, Multi-ethnicity and the Hindu State,” in State and Society in Nepal: Historical Foundations and Contemporary Trends. Lalitpur: Himal Books, 227-245.

Week 5: Political Economy of the State (Hari Sharma)
Required Readings
Blaikie, Piers et. al (2005) Chapters 1 to 4, Nepal in Crisis: Growth and Stagnation at the Periphery. New Delhi: Adroit, pp. 3-94.

Seddon, David (1993) "The Social Context of Population Growth" and "The Economic Basis of Social Inequality" in Nepal- A State of Poverty. New Delhi: Vikas Publishing House, pp. 62-85 and 118 – 169.

Seddon, David et al (1979) "The Underdevelopment of Nepal" and "Poor Peasants" in Peasants and Workers in Nepal.  New Delhi: Vikas Publishing House, pp. 20-75.

Week 6: Political Economy of the State (continued) (Hari Sharma)
Required Readings
Shrestha, Nanda R. (1990) "A General Theory of Underdevelopment and Migration" and "Tarai's Colonial and Peripheral Status: An Historical View" in Landlessness and Migration in Nepal.  Colorado: Westview Press, pp. 41-158 and 165-170.

Sharma, Prayag Raj (2004) “Emergence of a Hill-Town: Urban Development in Nepal’s Rural Backhills,” in State and Society in Nepal: Historical Foundations and Contemporary Trends.  Lalitpur: Himal Books, pp. 317-331.

Shrestha, Nanda R., Velu Raja P. and Conway, Dennis (1993), “Frontier Migration and Upward Mobility: The Case of Nepal” Economic Development and Cultural Change,
Vol. 41, No. 4, pp. 787-816. (JSTOR)

Week 7: Discussion on Research Questions on State, Society and People (Hari Sharma)

Week 8: Developing Research Proposal (Bandita Sijapati)

Week 9: Finalizing Research Project (Bandita Sijapati)

Week 10-13: Field Work (Bandita Sijapati)

Week 14: Writing (Bandita Sijapati)

Week 15: Presentation of Research (Bandita Sijapati)