About The Department
It is undoubtedly a much-abused cliché to raise the question, ‘where to locate the social’, in the earliest lectures on sociology. But there are no simple routes of avoiding it. On the contrary, this question can set one on innumerable tracks leading to unknown voyages and enigmatic experiences. The department of Sociology at Presidency University wishes to be an institution permanently on the move, in search of such mystical journeys. We invite young minds to join us and celebrate these experiences in the process of learning sociology. We are out to find complex ways of understanding, critiquing, and analyzing every bit of the world we inhabit. These efforts, we believe, can never be undertaken without passionate, sensitive and critical individuals just out of schools, eager to plunge into worlds of the social.
We began in 1989 as part of Presidency College, and have been dynamic enough to recast ourselves, since 2010, as an University, combining euphoria and critique by making and breaking traditions. While erstwhile students of the department have gone out to explore fresh pastures, many of the same have come back to turn the inside out. As a result, currently at the department, we have an exciting mélange of scholars who have had exposures of learning, and teaching, in Calcutta, Delhi, Germany and the UK. These are also active researchers whose interests range from Marxist thought to anthropology of affect, from sociology of childhood to representations of death in Indian films, from agrarian history to sociology of depression.
At the undergraduate level, we look forward to students from a variety of academic backgrounds, both from the sciences and the humanities. The curriculum taught at this level is designed accordingly, opening up different kinds of engagement with the social reality around us. It carefully weaves together sociological ways of looking at everyday life, theoretical abstractions of various kinds, and a critical analysis of the past and present of society in India.
At the postgraduate level, we diversify by encouraging disciplinary border-crossing and transgression of conventional academic boundaries. A vast range of courses are introduced at this level which reveal constitutive linkages between sociology/anthropology and classical and contemporary philosophy, cultural studies, history and philosophy of science, religious studies, visual anthropology, gender studies, economic theory and other such affinal epistemological fields. Moreover, theoretical interventions at this stage of the curriculum are taught through a huge range of ethnographies, which, we hope, will transport students to the life-worlds of people in different parts of the globe.
Pedagogy, for us, does not mean training the untrained, baptizing the uninitiated, or putting the ignorant on the path of knowledge. Learning, as we understand at the department, is a way of life. It is a dynamic, critically charged, philosophically conscious form of existence, which allows us to look back upon ourselves in a different light. Our classrooms are only temporary moments of assembly, from where we keep venturing out, into streets, lanes, fields, laboratories, pilgrimages, mountains, forests, factories, markets, museums and many more spaces, and learn amidst peoples, imaginations and dwellings occupying them. We look forward to all those who wish to be fellow travelers in this endeavor.