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Asia in Global History: From Colonialism to the Post-Cold War Era


Admission requirements

This course builds on 100-level and 200-level courses in the same track of the Human Diversity Major.


The class will explore the global conditions that made possible and shaped the historical narratives in Asia (focus will be on East Asia). The class will introduce and critically evaluate the concepts of global history (both, as a subject matter and methodology) and area studies (the politics of knowledge) on the example of East Asia (Japan, China, Taiwan, and North and South Korea) but will not be limited to East Asia only (students are encouraged to do research for their final papers and apply the learned concepts on any other country/region in Asia, e.g. India, Myanmar, Philippines, Central Asia, the Middle East, etc.). The class will attempt at placing the history of East Asian countries in the context of domestic changes and global transformations. The class will be organized around the following topics:

  • The Politics of Knowledge (the origin, nature and challenges of area studies in the West)

  • What is Global History?

  • Colonialism in East Asia (Opium wars; First Sino-Japanese War; Versailles Treaty; Japanese imperial nationalism in Taiwan, Korea and Okinawa)

  • From decolonization through the Cold War (the occupation of Japan and the US’s “reverse course”; The Korean War; the economic miracles in Japan, Korea and Taiwan; The Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution in China)

  • Post-Cold War: historical revisionism and the role of historical memory in contemporary issues. (the foundational narrative of postwar relations between Japan and the US; ethnic and colonial memory in Hiroshima; the “comfort women” issue; the rise of anti-Japanese sentiment in China; the topology of historical revisionism in Japan).

Course Objectives



Timetables for courses offered at Leiden University College in 2020-2021 will be published on this page of the e-Prospectus.

Mode of instruction

The course is taught through two-hour seminars. Students will be expected to participate in both large and small group discussions; present and defend their ideas within an academic setting; and take part in individual presentations. The instructor will facilitate and ensure the efficient running of the discussion, but students are responsible for shaping its direction. Each seminar has a ‘required reading’ list that must be read in advance of each seminar.

Assessment Method


Reading list

Materials will be provided via Brightspace.


Courses offered at Leiden University College (LUC) are usually only open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Leiden University students who participate in one of the university’s Honours tracks or programmes may register for one LUC course, if availability permits. Registration is coordinated by the Education Coordinator,


Dr. Maja Vodopivec,