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. Lectures are held every week, with the exception of the midterm exam week. Weekly lectures will cover both issues discussed in the readings, and issues outside of the readings.

Attending all tutorial sessions is compulsory. If you are unable to attend a session, please inform the tutor of the course in advance, providing a valid reason for your absence. Being absent without notification and valid reason or not being present at half or more of the tutorial sessions will mean your assignments will not be assessed, and result in a 1.0 for the tutorial (30% of the final grade).

Course Load

Total course load for this course is 5 EC (1 EC = 28 hours), this equals 140 hours, broken down by:

  • Attending lectures: 2 hours per week x 12 weeks: 24 hrs.

  • Attending tutorials 2 hours per two weeks: 12 hrs.

  • Assessment hours (midterms and final exam): 4 hrs.

  • Time for studying the compulsory literature: 64 hrs.

  • Time for completing assignments, preparation classes and exams: 36 hrs.

Assessment method


Midterm Exam:

  • Written examination with essay questions

Final exam:

  • Written examination with essay questions


Tutorials 30%
Midterm Exam 30%
Final Exam 40 %

To complete the final mark, please take notice of the following: the final mark for the course is established by determining the weighted average.
To pass the course, the average of mid- and end term exams (70%) has to be 5.5 at least.


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. The resit exam will cover the entire syllabus. No resit for the tutorials is possible.


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

  • Anthony Reid, A history of Southeast Asia: critical crossroads (Wiley-Blackwell 2015).

Both textbooks can be ordered on for example. Other readings are available using the university online library catalogue or will be distributed in class in the week prior to the corresponding class.

Students need to come to class having read the texts for the topic of the week


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-Samarasinghe
Prof. Dr. D.E.F. Henley