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Asia through Consumption


Admission requirements

Only for students of MA programme in Asian Studies. Students who are interested in taking this course, but who are not admitted to one of the mentioned master programmes are requested to contact their co-ordinator of studies. Please read instructions under registration carefully.


Mass availability of consumer goods has had the most significant impact upon the way of life of ordinary people during the last hundred years. No aspect of daily life has been left untouched by the emergence of the consumer society. It has not only satisfied our needs, and created new ones, but also in many ways affected the ways we view the world and our position in it. This course will explore the historical transformation of consumption and its growing impact on society, with particular reference to Asia.

Course objectives

This course aims to introduce students to the key theoretical and conceptual literature on consumer society and to familiarize them with the ways to apply this literature to the study of Asian societies in both historical and contemporary contexts. We will explore, among other topics, the place of consumption (of both material objects and experiences) within modernity and post-modernity.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

Assessment method

  • Participation element (attendance, assignments) 40%

  • Analytic element (topic description / rationale) 10%

  • Research element (research paper of 4000 words) 50%


Participation element does not offer a resit opportunity. Analytical element can be re-submitted by submitting an additional assignment (to be determined by the instructor). Research element consists of two deadlines, the first one followed by an extensive feedback.

Reading list

Main textbook (purchase recommended): Robert Bocock, Consumption. London: Routledge, 1993.

Additional readings will be made available for download through the University Library, or will be on reserve in the East Asia Library.


MA Asian Studies students may enroll directly through uSis. The number of places is limited and the principle is first come, first served.

MA Asian Studies (research) students are strongly advised to opt for the Research MA version of the course, if available. Students opting for the regular MA version should contact their Coordinator of Studies, dr. N.A.N.M. van Os.

MA International Studies students should contact their Coordinator of Studies, Drs. E.J. Walstra for information on the enrollment procedure.

For MA Asian Studies students, directly enroll via Usis



In order to prepare for the first session, please sign-up for this course on Blackboard, download the syllabus and follow the instructions.