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Race and Racism: Asian perspectives


Admission requirements

This course is available for students of the Humanities Lab
If you have received your propaedeutic diploma within one academic year, your academic results are good and you are a very motivated student, you may apply for a place in the Humanities Lab.


Many discussions on race tend to focus on interactions between the “West” versus “Rest” and the colonial roots of these tensions. By predominantly relying on scholarship on Europe and North America, the concept of race and the dynamics of racism become too limited, leaving out large parts of the world where race and racism played an equally central role in shaping societies and history.

In this seminar, we will examine the concepts of race and racism as an integral part of the modern period, focusing on Asia to highlight both the universal and particular characteristics of racial differentiation. Using case studies from India, China, Manchuria, the Korean peninsula and Japan, we will discuss how race and racism are closely linked to “universal” issues of nationalism, empire, gender and class, as expressed in e.g. the racial policies and boundaries of the Japanese empire, the use of sex and gender in colonial rule and the position of mixed-race individuals in “homogenous” nation states in East Asia. As a result, we will aim to not only gain a better understanding of the dynamics of race and racism in the Asian context but also a more nuanced understanding of their role as a product and integral part of modernity.

Course objectives

  • To understand key conceptualizations of race and racism

  • To be able to critically examine the dynamics of race and racism in the context of modern history and global phenomena

  • To be able to critically examine the dynamics of race and racism in the context of Asian societies and history

  • To be able to apply relevant theories and concepts to the analysis of race in specific empirical contexts

  • To research, interpret and draw conclusions about race and racism in Asia and beyond


Courses of the Humanities Lab are scheduled on Friday afternoon from 13.00 to 17.00 h. For the exact timetable, please visit the following website

Mode of instruction


Course Load

  • Lectures: 4 hours a week x 7 = 28 hours

  • Readings: 8.5 hours a week x 7 = 59 hours

  • Weekly Assignments: 1 hour a week x 7 = 7 hours

  • Presentation: 1× 6 hours = 6 hours

  • Final paper: 40 hours

Total course load: 5× 28 = 140 hours

Assessment method

Attendance, active participation, and presentation (30%)
Webpostings and assignments (30%)
Analytical paper (1,000 words) and research paper (2,500-3,000 words), (40%)

All elements have to be passed successfully to receive a course grade. There are no resits for attendance, the presentation and webpostings. For the research paper, the possibility of a resit applies.


Attendance is compulsory for all meetings (lectures, seminars, excursion). If you are unable to attend due to circumstances beyond your control, notify the Humanities Lab office in advance, providing a valid reason for your absence, and hand in your weekly assignment in writing to the lecturer (if applicable). Being absent without notification and valid reason may result in lower grades or exclusion from the course.


Blackboard plays an essential part in this course. All important information about the course, including the syllabus, course requirements, and information about readings and announcements are made available on the course website. As part of class participation, students will also be required to make postings on the Blackboard website. Blackboard access is therefore essential in order to complete this course.

Reading list

See Blackboard


Students of the Humanities Lab will be registered via uSis by the administration of the Humanities Lab.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable


Lecturer: Mr W.J.T. de Zeeuw MA(Res)

Humanities Lab office: e-mail


More information: website

This course will be taught in English.