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Democratizing Histories: Asia and the world


Admission requirements

No admission pre-requirements


What is history, what is it for, and whose is it? While all three of these questions are as old as the discipline of history itself, most recently, it is the last of the three that has increasingly come to occupy global center stage. This development in the writing of history, or historiography, reflects a more general global-historical pattern: Around the world, the last several decades have witnessed both a declining interest in traditional intellectual and political confrontations of “right” and “left” as such, and a dramatic rise in critical discussion and debate of notions that previously inspired little controversy, including modernity, globalization, Western dominance, gender, race, culture, nation-building and national identity.

Such academic shifts in turn reflect recent historical shifts and struggles in the global balance of power, including the decline of Euro-American dominance and the end of the Cold War on the one hand, and, on the other, the increasing global empowerment and assertiveness of groups, peoples and places whose active role in the making (and writing) of history was formerly ignored, denied, or suppressed. Asia, and the writing of modern Asian history, stands at the center and forefront of such developments, which can be summed up in the term “Democratizing Histories.”

This course explores these developments from a variety of methodological, thematic and geographical perspectives. The instructors, specialists in South Asia and East/Southeast Asia respectively, address shared questions of Asia’s history and historiography drawing upon distinct regional perspectives as well as a common theoretical foundation. Themes include the local, the national and the transnational; the relationship between academic and non-academic histories; histories in the vernacular; centers and peripheries; and the possibility of post-Eurocentric histories.

Course objectives

Participants in this course will acquire the following:

  • A critical understanding of contemporary methods/ tools of history writing, alternative approaches, forms of narrativisation, and the ability to apply them in analysis.

  • An understanding of non-Western perspectives on historiography

  • Improved research skills, presentation skills, composition skills, and ability to critically evaluate readings



Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

Course load

  • Lectures: 28 hours

  • Studying literature:112 hours ( 4 hours per week)

  • Writing paper and preparing for class presentation: 140 hours

Assessment method

  • Presentation/Attendance/Participation: 50%

  • Term Paper (+/- 4,000 words): 50%



Reading List

To be announced.


Enroll via uSis### Contact

Prof. Dr. N.K. Wickramasinghe-Samarasi
Dhr. Dr. E. Mark