nl en

History: South and South-East Asia


Admission requirements

This course is only available for students in the BA International Studies.

Limited places are also open for exchange students. Please note: this course takes place in The Hague.


This course provides a broad overview of the histories of South and Southeast Asia, with an emphasis on the period since 1945. It sketches the shared precolonial heritage and the effects of European domination and Western capitalism, exploring how peoples and communities both resisted and accommodated these forces. The partition of India, and the decolonization of Indonesia and Indochina, are analyzed as foundational moments for the new political orders emerging in the mid twentieth century. The course addresses the dynamics of economic development in South and Southeast Asia during the subsequent decades, together with the myriad social and political problems – ranging from governmental abuse of human rights, to violent anti-government insurgencies – that have accompanied the growing prosperity enjoyed in many countries. We conclude by assessing how ideals of democracy, plurality and secularism are currently being reinterpreted and renegotiated in South and Southeast Asia.
Lecture1: South Asia and Southeast Asia: interconnected histories
Lecture 2: Wealth, faith and power in Southeast Asian history
Lecture 3: Empire, capital, and the making of modern societies in South Asia
Lecture 4: Nationalism and Partition in South Asia
Lecture 5: The origins of Southeast Asian nations, 1850-1945
Lecture 6: Southeast Asia: revolution and counter-revolution, 1945-1990
Lecture 7: The developmental state in South Asia, 1950-1990s
Lecture 8: Democracy and authoritarianism in South Asia
Lecture 9: Southeast Asia: social and cultural change since 1945
Lecture 10: Southeast Asia: political and economic change since 1990
Lecture 11: South Asia at the margins: dalits, minorities, women
Lecture 12: South and Southeast Asian futures

Course objectives

The course aims to give students a concise knowledge of the modern histories of South and Southeast Asia, and to make them familiar with current debates on key issues in relation to those histories. It also invites students to think critically about democracy, development, and social justice.


The timetable is available on the BA International Studies website.

Mode of instruction

One two hour lecture per week; bi-weekly tutorials.

Attending lectures and tutorials is compulsory. If you are not able to attend a lecture or tutorial, please inform the tutor of the course. Being absent without notification can result in a lower grade or exclusion from the final exam or essay.

Course Load

Total course load for the course 5 EC x 28 hours is 140 hours, broken down by

  • 12 lectures: 24 hours

  • 4 tutorials: 8 hours

  • Preparation for lectures and tutorial assignments: 72 hours

  • Preparation exams: 36 hours

Assessment method

  • Tutorials 30%

  • Midterm Exam 30%

  • Final Exam 40%

If the final grade is insufficient (lower than a 6), there is the possibility of retaking the full 70% of the exam material, replacing both the earlier mid- and endterm grades. No resit for the tutorials is possible.

To complete the final mark, please take notice of the following:
the final mark for the course is established by determining the weighted average


Blackboard will be used. For tutorial groups: please enroll in blackboard after your enrolment in uSis

Students are requested to register on Blackboard for this course.

Reading list

*Crispin Bates, Subalterns and Raj: South Asia since 1600. London: Routledge, 2007. *M.C. Ricklefs, Bruce Lockhart, Albert Lau, Portia Reyes and Maitrii Aung-Thwin, A new history of Southeast Asia. Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010.

Additional course reading material is indicated by lecture below, and will be posted on Blackboard in pdf form.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


Prof.dr. N.K. Wickramasinghe, email

Prof.dr. D.E.F. Henley, email