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Indian Studies is concerned with the cultures and societies of the Indian sub-continent from their beginnings through to the present day. At the centre of Indian Studies in Zurich stand the languages literatures, religions and philosophies of India and their social-historical context, as well as politics, the economy and social change in modern India. Research is based, on the one hand, on the philological analysis of original-language sources in various Indian languages and their interrogation through the questions and methods of cultural studies; on the other hand, on the surveying of data using the methods of the qualitative and quantitative social sciences. In line with this approach, the degree programs in Indian Studies in Zurich place a special weight on language acquisition, on the communication of foundational knowledge concerning history, society, literature, religion, philosophy, politics and economics, as well as an introduction to research methods.
In the area of language, focus lies on Sanskrit, Pali and Hindi. Sanskrit enables the study of and research into the sources for ancient and medieval India, and thus the literature, history, religion and philosophy of these periods. The knowledge of a Middle Indic language (e.g. Pali) broadens the spectrum of accessible texts, for example with a view to Buddhist literature. Hindi is one of the most important present-day national languages and offers the possibility to explore historical, social and intellectual developments of modern India.
The methodological spectrum of Indian Studies comprises the methods of text philology, text hermeneutics and cultural studies, as well as the qualitative and quantitative methods of the social sciences. The focus of Indian cultural studies lies in the following areas: the history of Hinduism past and present (religious-philosophical texts, religious practices and institutions, the history and structure of religious pluralism in India), classical Sanskrit literature (particularly epics and Purāṇa), Indian philosophy and aesthetics, as well as modern Hindi literature. A further focal point is the entangled histories between India and Europe in the modern period. In the area of social scientific research on modern India, focus lies in the areas of politics and processes of democratisation, development politics, and social structures between the poles of urban and rural spaces.