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Cultural Heritage in East Asia: dealing with the past in present and future


This course description is not complete yet and still in progress

Admission requirements

MA Students of Asian Studies or related disciplines.


This course aims to provide students with a multidimensional and diverse understanding of national and global preservation of tangible and intangible cultural heritage (ICH) – customs, rituals, festivals, and other intangible cultural expressions – and its impact on the cultural landscape of local communities in East Asia. Furthermore, we shall look at recent developments and possible futures of the current preservation frameworks.
During the first part of the course, we shall establish some baseline understanding of several themes related to the preservation of culture, such as the distinction between high and low culture, the definition and significance of folk culture in present times, notions of tradition and nostalgia, and the sense and non-sense of cultural authenticity. We shall then shift focus to concrete processes of heritage preservation in East Asia both in situ and through institutions such as ethnographic museums, conflicts that arise from these practices, and conclude with a critical assessment of where heritage ‘belongs’ and what shape it will take in the future. Themes touched upon will include the relation between local systems of cultural property preservation and changes brought about by the global frameworks of UNESCO, the implications of “ranking” various cultural expressions on heritage lists, and the impact of national and international tourism on local (folk) cultures.
The regional focus of the lectures will be on East Asia (in no particular order: China, Japan, Korea), but comparison with other regions (Europe and North America in particular) is always within reach, and students are free to explore other regions as well. The aim is to obtain a broad but critical perspective on processes regarding the objectification of cultural practice and the preservation of intangible cultural expressions in East Asia and throughout the world.

Course objectives


The timetables are avalable through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

Choose from:

  • Lecture

  • Seminar

  • Research

  • Excursion

  • Internship

  • Thesis BA or Thesis MA

Assessment method

Please indicate here how the course is assessed.
Possibilities (Note that in case of mid-term examinations the weighting must be specified and how the final mark is established):

  • Written examination with closed questions (eg multiple choice)

  • Written examination with short open questions

  • Written examination with essay questions

  • Take home examination

  • Paper

  • Oral examination

  • Abstract, oral presentation.

To complete the final mark, please take notice of the following:
the final mark for the course is established by determining the weighted average
the final mark for the course is established by (i) determination of the weighted average combined with (ii) additional requirements. These additional requirements generally relate to one or more of the subtests always be sufficient

Please describe how the resit will be arranged. The resit may consist of the same subtests as the first opportunity, but this is not compulsory. The alternative is to combine subtests for the resit. Offering a resit is mandatory.
Validity of exams: An additional sub-header (#### Validity of exams) could state the validity of passed course grades will be limited an amount of years, due to societal relevance or outdated knowledge. This option is only available in concurrence with the Board of Examiners. Starting academic year 2020-2021, restricting the validity of exams will be possible again.




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

The booktitles and / or syllabi to be used in the course, where it can be purchased and how this literature should be studied beforehand.