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Living Histories: Locating Pasts in Southern Asia


Admission requirements

  • The course is compulsory for students of South and Southeast Asian Studies

  • Students from other programs are welcome: Any other Asian or Middle Eastern Studies program; History; Anthropology; Philosophy; Art History/Material Culture.

  • Students outside these interests are requested to submit a note of interest by 31 August 2018 to the course instructor Dr. Sanjukta Sunderason, cc-ed to Studie Coordinator Ms Pui Chi.


How are histories “lived”? What makes a historical “past” alive to the needs of a “present”? Does the historical also haunt the contemporary?

In this course, we will study how “pasts” and “presents” co-habit and co-produce each other, by exploring a range of historical, anthropological and cultural literature from Southern Asia (spanning both South and Southeast Asia). While looking at concrete case-studies, the course will aim at raising and working with conceptual and theoretical issues around the questions of time, history, place and memory. Students will be introduced to ways of thinking about both “meta” questions of classical pasts, empires and nation-states, as well as “minor” questions of individuals, communities, everyday living and private emotions that make pasts alive and alert to the dynamics and demands of the present.

The model of the course is experimental. It will combine both seminars (case-study specific) and informal sessions around book reviews and projects/presentations. Students will also be trained in developing their own projects with primary and secondary sources, articulating collaborative group work, and steering “cultural” seminars like film/documentary screenings.

Course objectives

This course has the clear objectives of:
1. Introducing students to the methods, materials and forms of history-writing
2. Combining perspectives from Southern Asia to global concerns and questions
3. Making students think in inter-disciplinary ways about specific themes
4. Training students in ways of thinking, articulating, writing and presenting
5. Training students in writing skills for shorter pieces (précis-s, webpostings etc) as well as essays and projects (including visual and audio-visual material)
6. Helping students develop their own projects combining theory, archive and imagination!
7. Training students in organizing seminars and academic events (the course will have an in-built component of student-organized and introduced film/documentary screening) and contribute to academic environment in the university.
8. Teaching students how to develop and pursue concrete learning goals and working methods
9. Providing professional “career” skills in the field – in this case, as historians, museum professionals, anthropologists, or artists, to name a few.


The timetable is available on the website of the BA SSEA

Mode of instruction

This is a seminar (Combining introductory thematic lectures and student presentations in the first 8 sessions and a strong component of student-driven projects in the last 4 sessions).

Course Load

A brief calculation of course load:

  1. Lectures (Seminar 1-8) 2 hours x 8 sessions (1 Introductory + 7 thematic sessions) TOTAL 16 hours

  2. Final Book Review and Project presentations (Seminar 9-12): 2 hours x 4 sessions TOTAL 8 hours

  3. Weekly Readings: 50 pages (approx.) x 7 sessions 350 pages TOTAL 50 hours

  4. Weekly web-posting assignments & presentations: 2 x 7 sessions TOTAL 14 hours

  5. Practical/In lieu of exams:
    I. Book Review preparation (20% of final assessment): 20 hours (book review can be a build up to Final project in a “cumulative sense”)
    II. Final projects preparation (40% of final assessment): 32 hours TOTAL 52 hours

TOTAL 140 hours

Assessment method

There will be a three-tiered Assessment method:

  1. Class conversations, webpostings and presentations: 40% (through out the semester) Weekly webpostings of 350-400 words must be submitted on blackboard. Instructions to be provided in class.
  2. Book Review: 20% (to be submitted end-semester, book to be selected before mid-term break). The review will be discussed in class in Seminar 9 (tentative, depending on class size). The review should be between 1000-1200 words excluding references.
  3. Final Project: 40% (to be submitted end-semester) The full project should have textual, audio/visual, historiographical components. The full project should be within 3000 words including references, tables/annexes and footnotes.
    Resits will be allowed only for the Final Project (40% of the course)
    There will not be any exams in this course.


Blackboard ( will be used for:  Regular communication  Course Instructions  Assignments (weekly and end-semester ones)

Reading list

All literature will be provided in Seminar 1. No previous preparation needed.

  • Students are, however, encouraged to come to the Introductory seminar (seminar 1) with their own ideas about the theme of Living Histories!*


Please enrol through uSis. THIS IS MANDATORY.
General information about uSis is available on the website

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

This course is open to students for Contractonderwijs. Taking the exams (for this course the projects and book reviews) is compulsory.

Choose from the options below:

Registration Studeren à la carte
Registration Contractonderwijs


Course Instructor and Coordinator:

Dr. Sanjukta Sunderason
Contact hours: For Autumn Semester, to be announced in class.


All other information.