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Culture, Art & Religion
The Temple University in India summer program, based in the medieval desert town of Dhrangadhra, Gujarat, is intended to investigate Indian civilization through an anthropological study of its religious and artistic traditions, both ancient and contemporary. Upper-level undergraduate students and graduate students may apply.
The mode of study is highly experiential and combines workshops, field trips and short apprenticeships. Each student conducts an independent field research project, focusing on an area of particular interest. Students have chosen to study many topics, including but not limited to: gender roles in religious performance; history and significance of Hindu gods and goddesses; traditional dance; Indian music composition; the art of mehndi; the sacredness of cows; and disability. Study is supervised by Dr. Jayasinhji Jhala, associate professor of anthropology at Temple University, whose lectures provide context for your experience and research. Local academics, performers, artists, religious leaders, and interpreters also serve as resources for students during the program.
As this is an experiential learning opportunity, students with skills in video making, photography, painting, sculpture, jewelry making, dance, music, theater or yoga are encouraged to apply.
Gujarat, the western-most state of the Indian Republic, has its own 2,000-year history and language, and the longest coastline of any province. With its unique geography and fauna and flora, Gujarat provides the only home for the Asiatic lion, the Indian onager and the great Indian bustard. As a maritime province, it has historical links with the cultures of East Africa, the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea, as well as those of the Portuguese and British colonial powers. These influences have contributed to the immigration of people to this region and added to the rich diversity of cultural expression in Gujarat, augmented by the landbased traditions to its east and north. It is possibly the most diverse of Indian provinces, hosting more religions and ethnic groups than others, and it is the land of Mahatma Gandhi, whose doctrine of non-violent protest came out of earlier indigenous forms of social action. More Indians living in the United States come from the province of Gujarat than from any other region of India.
This medieval town of 100,000 people has a Hindu, Muslim, Parsi and Jain population subdivided into more than 50 caste groups. The affluent are traders in the local cotton and salt trade that has existed for over 300 years, while the majority are farmers and shopkeepers. The town was until 1947 the capital of the local kingdom of Halvad-Dhrangadhra, and has both sacred and secular architecture influenced by local history. Temples, stepwells, palaces and mosques from various historical periods provide ample opportunity for study. There are more than 100 places of worship, and ancient art and craft traditions such as stone sculpture, jewelrymaking, tie and dye fabrics and embroidery prosper. Several types of yoga are taught in the town, as is classical and folk music. The Rabari and Bharvad pastoral groups that raise cattle, sheep, goats and camels live in villages surrounding the town. The provincial town boasts several hospitals, schools and a college and is connected to the state capital of Ahmedabad by road and rail. There are e-mail facilities in the town as well as telephone and postal service, and three-wheel scooter taxis for travel within the town. Several cinema houses show Gujarati and Bombay films and the work of indigenous videographers and photographers who document various rites of passage. As Dhrangadhra experiences a desert climate, students must be prepared to adapt to high temperatures.
Students earn credit for two courses. For one course, undergraduates enroll in Anthropology 2367: Peoples of South Asia (3 cr), and graduate students enroll in Anthropology 8310: Problems in Cultural Anthropology (3 cr). The second course, offered at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, is Anthropology 3389/5389: Fieldwork in Ethnography (3 cr). Both courses speak to the culture of India and the art, aesthetic and craft traditions of western India. (Anthropology 2367 is cross-listed with Asian Studies 2367. Anthropology 3389 is cross-listed with Asian Studies 3000.)
Students with special needs due to their major/disciplinary requirements or students who have previously participated in the program may discuss with Dr. Jhala the possibility of earning independent study credit. Returning students will be expected to build on their past work and projects.
Through Anthropology 2367/8310, students explore culture, caste, history and religion in South Asia in general, and in western India in particular. Students are introduced to Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism, the great religions that are indigenous to India, as well as Islam, Christianity and Zoroastrianism, which were brought to western India by migrant populations. Hindu philosophy, cosmology, mythology and ritual practice serve to make comparative studies of other resident faiths.
Anthropology 3389/5389 provides a foundation for engaging local populations and exploring how religious and secular ideas have found expression in the plastic and performance arts, the temple, the palace, and the mercantile and village traditions. Each student carries out an independent field research project, which is approved and supervised by the faculty director, Dr. Jhala.
For those doing studio projects, studio space and apprenticeships are arranged with a local master craftsman, artist or musician. Students are expected to produce a term paper, film, sculpture or other appropriate academic or aesthetic product reflecting their work. This final product should advance the undergraduate students' aspirations towards graduate school, a profession, or a career of public service in non-Western societies. Graduate students articulate a project that advances them in their chosen area. All students are required to plan their field research projects and discuss their plans with Dr. Jhala well before departure for India.
Visits to local sites such as temples, artist studios and villages allow students to gain first-hand experience of the performative, ritual and creative processes that are underway, as well as the pace and flavor of rural life in India. By participating in and observing performances of various cultural events, students gain a more substantial appreciation of the cultures they are studying. Such experiences provide students with ample opportunities to enhance their individual research projects and engage in intellectual reflection.
Temple undergraduate students who successfully complete this program automatically satisfy the World Society (GG) requirement of GenEd.
The program director, Dr. Jayasinhji Jhala, associate professor of anthropology and director of the Anthropology Media Lab at Temple University, was born in Dhrangadhra. He received his early education in India and a BA in English literature before coming to the U.S. to obtain his masters in media and film from M.I.T. and his PhD in anthropology from Harvard. Dr. Jhala has made several films about the culture of communities living in and around Dhrangadhra. It is his primary area of research, and he has taken many students and colleagues to the region since 1979 for ethnographic and film projects.
Students have the opportunity to visit medieval castles and temples of the region and to experience life in multi-caste villages. There is a strong theatrical tradition called Bhavai, and this performance of song, dance, storytelling and theater occurs seasonally in village squares after sundown, permitting students to observe how performance and entertainment are used to bring both education and joy to local residents. Fairs and festivals in the town and its surrounding region provide further opportunities to observe the interactions between town and country.
Housing and three meals a day are arranged in a comfortable private guest house in Dhrangadhra. During trips into villages, appropriate housing will be arranged.
*Per university policy, Temple students who are considered “upper division” are charged additional tuition per credit in the summer (Pennsylvania Residents: additional $14 per credit; Non-Pennsylvania Residents: additional $48 per credit). “Upper division” is defined as an undergraduate student with a minimum of 60 earned credits, regardless of how obtained. This policy does not affect non-Temple students.
**The India Fee includes housing, meals and local program-related travel. Please note that this fee is based on last year's fee and will be updated.
In addition to the items above, students should budget money for entrance fees related to extracurricular activities, personal travel, and any additional personal expenses.
Dates are tentative and subject to change
Please see General Summer Information to read about pre-departure information and orientation, passports and visas, scholarships, costs and payment policies, accreditation, and transfer of credits.
Please see Eligibility and Application Procedures for program eligibility, application requirements, and application procedures that apply to all summer programs. In addition, for the India program, the following is required:
FOR MORE INFORMATION
For additional information, please contact Dr. Jayasinhji Jhala; Department of Anthropology; Temple University; email@example.com
Education Abroad; 215-204-0720; firstname.lastname@example.org