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Culture: 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.


When studying a particular region of the world, knowledge of its cultural universe is crucial; the study of culture allows the understanding of the deeper structures behind history, politics and economy. Culture is the symbolic repertoire that gives form and content to national and collective identities, the subjectivity of individuals, and the environment. Culture is expressed in both material and immaterial resources, through which relations of legitimacy and domination are built in specific temporal and geographical contexts. Culture is a domain in which strategies for winning consent and cohesion are reflected, but it also includes mechanisms of in- and exclusion or conflicts on the basis of e.g. nationality, language, religion, ethnicity or gender. This course looks at these processes in specific cultural contexts of the world, and revises the regional scholarly traditions in the study and circulation of culture.

Culture: South and Southeast Asia introduces critical questions around cultural practices and cultural politics across contemporary South and Southeast Asia. The course offers critical analysis of some key conceptual categories that help understand questions of culture in the regions, such as the “modernity” versus “tradition” paradigm, the idea of a “South Asian” and a “Southeast Asian” region, notions of cultural politics, nationalism, globalization, diasporic cultures and so on. We question both ‘high culture’ as well as the cultural mechanisms of nation-states, heritage management, identity-formations, as well as questions of class, gender and the market that undercut the field of culture. An important dimension of the course is to open up questions of culture to the pushes and pulls of the nation, communities and individual negotiations in South and Southeast Asia. Lectures explore connected themes from both South and Southeast Asian perspectives as well as comparatively. Designed in five inter-related themes with individual lectures spanning South and Southeast Asia alternatively, the course expects students to gain critical tools in both understanding and questioning cultural forms, structures and politics.

Course objectives

  • knowledge of and insight into important cultural domains in contemporary South and Southeast Asia

  • knowledge of and insights into actual debates about culture in general and with regard to South and Southeast Asia

  • training of analytical skills with regard to questions of culture, by means of critical analysis of internet objects from South and Southeast Asia and of scholarly studies on culture in South and Southeast Asia.


The timetable is available on the BA International Studies website.

Mode of instruction

Lecture and 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 is 5 ec = 140 hours, broken down by: – Hours spent on attending lectures and seminars: 32 hours – Time for studying the compulsory literature: 60 hours – Assessments: 48 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. Students are requested to register on Blackboard for this course.
Blackboard serves as the primary channel of communication about the course between instructors and students outside class meetings. Registration for the course on Blackboard is essential.

Blackboard is also used for:

  • announcements

  • the extended course description (syllabus), including the reading list

  • matters relating to the tutorials (including written work produced for and discussed in tutorials)

Reading list

Will be announced through blackboard.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


Dr. S. Sunderason, email

Dr. A.T.P.G. van Engelenhoven, email