Teaching case

Feel free to use my teaching case, "Shah Bano: Muslim Women's Rights" in your classes or workshops.  It is part of the interactive website,
Teaching Human Rights Online.

In India, the “personal laws” of different religious communities continue to be legally recognized in marriage and divorce cases. Personal laws of all communities have been criticized for disadvantaging women.  The Shah Bano decision, in which the Supreme Court overruled a Muslim personal law, granted a Muslim women alimony but threatened the limited legal autonomy granted to the Muslim minority in India.  In response, legislation was proposed to prevent such a court decision in the future.  Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi faced a rights dilemma.  His decision over whether to support the Supreme Court ruling or the new legislation, like the larger debate over whether to retain these personal laws or adopt a uniform civil code, poses dilemmas and debates for students of politics, law, women’s studies and human rights.  Questions raised include: How should we weigh individual women’s rights against the rights of a disadvantaged minority group?  Can or should we have universal women’s rights?  Are human rights only the rights of individuals?  Can we preserve both cultural traditions and individual rights?  Is it possible to compromise when faced with such a rights dilemma?


Graduate classes:

  • Political Development
  • South Asian Politics

 Undergraduate/graduate classes:    

  • Gender and sustainable development
  • Nationalism and identity politics

Undergraduate classes:

  • Comparative politics of developing countries
  • Education and power
  • Introduction to comparative government
  • Natural and unnatural disasters in the global south
  • Politics of South Asia
  • Senior capstone on nationalism
Active learning

Some assignments I have used to promote active learning in my classes include:

PechaKucha 20x20 presentations

Based on academic journal articles, reputable news articles from developing countries, and a library workshop on the responsible use of images in research, students write an essay and give a PechaKucha 20x20 presentation (20 images for 20 seconds each, with live narration, for a total of 7 minutes).  See http://www.pecha-kucha.org

Constitution writing

Drawing on country case studies and in-class small group discussions, students design a new constitution for an authoritarian country of their choice.  Group proposals featuring new democratic institutions, electoral systems and minority rights are shared online and are the catalyst for individual essays justifying three decisions through comparative analysis.

Case teaching

In addition to my own case, students read and respond to other teaching cases by grappling with a political or policy dilemma and considering various points of view through role play, debates or essays. See Teaching Human Rights Online http://homepages.uc.edu/thro/index.html and The Electronic Hallway http://hallway.evans.washington.edu/.

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