nl en

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 in 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 formation, language development, as well as questions of class, gender and the market which 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. The lectures explore connected themes from both South and Southeast Asian perspectives as well as comparatively. Covering five inter-related themes with individual lectures on South and Southeast Asia by turns, 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

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

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:

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

  • Atending attending tutorials 2 hours per three weeks: 8 hrs

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

  • Time for studying the compulsory literature: 68 hrs

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

Assessment method


Midterm Exam:

  • Take home examination

Final exam:

  • Written examination with essay questions


Tutorials 30%
Midterm Exam 30%
Final Exam 40 %

The final mark for the course is established by determining the weighted average.


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.


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

The reading list, consisting of a series of articles, will be announced through Blackboard. Students should study the readings before the lecture in question.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable


For tutorials
Prof. Dr. B. Arps
Dr. S. Sunderason
Dr. A.T.P.G. van Engelenhoven