nl en

Art and Power in Asia (5 EC)


Admission requirements

MA Students with interest in the following:

  • Art History; Early Modern and Modern Asian Art; Visual Culture; Cultural politics; Cultural History; Global South and Transnational Asian Aesthetics; Asian Studies; Global History; International Studies.

  • Students interested are welcome to contact the instructors of the course in joint emails.


This course investigates how art and art practices have contributed to producing power as well as facilitating escape and resistance in early modern and modern Asia. We explore the connections and ruptures between early modernity and modernity in different regions of Asia with a focus on three major fields in which people created parallel spaces dominated by authorities and alternative communities: Space (Fan Lin), Escape (Doreen Mueller), and Opposition (Sanjukta Sunderason). The first two sections - Space and Escape - will focus on modes of expression in the visual culture of early modern Asia. In the Space section, we will examine three types of spatial realities: religious/auspicious space, urban space, and natural space in crisis. The section on escape moves to exploring modes of temporary withdrawal from orthodox realities in the form of retirement to nature, as well as urban forms of escape such as the theatre and eroticism. The third section - Opposition - moves to the modern period, and looks at 19th and 20th century art and visual cultures from Asia that emerged out of socio-political encounters and negotiations, and counter/hegemonic imaginations.

This pilot course brings together for the first time art from transnational Asian contexts and histories and forges dialogues between pre-modern and modern histories of art, as well as those between art-making, political thought, human-nature interfaces and meta-processes of empire, colonialism, decolonization, displacements and internationalisms.

Course objectives

  • Improved research skills

  • Critical reading and evaluation skills

  • Presentation skills

  • Composition and writing skills

  • Exposure to theoretical and archival material from the field


Visit MyTimetable.

Mode of instruction


Assessment method

There will be a two-tiered assessment method:
1. Class participation/contribution, webpostings and presentations: 40% (through out the semester) These will include working in groups on webpostings and class presentations. Weekly webpostings of 250-300 words approx. will need to be submitted on Bightspace. Detailed instructions to be provided in class.
2. 3 Short Essays on three key modules of the course (Space; Escape; Opposition): 60% (20% x 3)
3. For 5 EC students: Essays must have 3 modules of 800-1000 words (+/-10%) each. For 10 EC students: Essays must have 3 modules of 1500 works (+/-10%) each.


There will not be any exams in this course.


Resits will be allowed only for the final essays (60% of the course)

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

t.b.a. closer to the start of the semester


online in uSis


Dr. Fan Lin

Dr. Doreen Müller

Dr. Sanjukta Sundersaon