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Seminar III: Heritage of South- and Southeast Asia


Admission requirements

Successful completion of at least 60 EC of the first year (propaedeutics) and 45 EC of the second year of the bachelor’s programme in South and Southeast Asian Studies including Seminar II: Futures of South and Southeast Asia. Please, contact the student advisor or Prof.dr.David Henley, if you are interested in taking this course, but do NOT fulfill the above mentioned requirement.


This seminar will introduce students to some of the key concepts, issues, debates, and literature surrounding the idea and politics of heritage. Bringing together both theoretical literature and case studies from South and Southeast Asia, the seminar will focus on a multi-layered set of questions around the theme of heritage: collection, representation, ‘museumization’, historicity, modernity, identity, memory, and conflict. Students will be exposed to pertinent literature from various disciplines, including history, art history, anthropology, and human geography. They will be shown how to understand heritage in terms of objects, traditions, narratives, frames, agendas, claims, and negotiations, and how to place heritage issues in cultural, social, political, and economic context.

The format is inclusive and participatory, featuring student presentations and debate as well as guest lectures on heritage-related topics by specialists in particular areas. The majority of the seminars in the series are structured around interpretations and discussions of specific primary sources, led by second-year student presenters. Other seminars take as their starting points presentations of ongoing dissertation research by third year students.

Course objectives

  • To give students a good conceptual understanding of the idea of heritage.

  • To introduce students to key texts and arguments surrounding heritage.

  • To teach students to apply general knowledge of heritage issues to specific case studies and debates from South and Southeast Asia.

  • To give students instruction and experience in analysing primary sources.

  • To improve students’ ability to review secondary literature in a comprehensive and critical way.

  • To improve students’ ability to present and contest arguments.

  • To encourage students to relativize culturally and historically specific assumptions.

  • To meet the need for a regular gathering of, and discussion among, all students of the South and Southeast Asian Studies programme at a stage when most of its other components are optional and specialized.

  • To allow second year students to benefit directly from the experience and knowledge of the third year cohort.



Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

Attendance and participation are obligatory. Classes missed for a good reason (to the discretion of the conveners and to be discussed BEFORE the class takes place) will have to be made up with an extra assignment. Being absent without notification can result in a lower grade or exclusion from the final paper and a failing grade for the course.

Course Load

140 hours in total for 5 ECs, of which 24 hours of lectures and student seminars, and the remainder to be spent on reading (average of 4 hours per week), preparing web postings in response to the set readings, preparing one presentation, preparing a mid-term essay, and preparing a final essay.

Assessment method

  • web postings in response to set readings: 20% (as)

  • presentation and participation: 10% (op)

  • mid-term essay (2500-3000 words): 30% (wp)

  • final essay (3500-4000 words, thesis related literature review): 40% (wp)

In order to pass the course, students must obtain an overall mark of “5.50” (=6) or higher. A new version of the final essay may be written if the overall mark for the course is “5.49” (=5) or lower. The deadline for this version will be determined in consultation.

This course is an integrated whole. Everything needs to be taken in the same academic year. It is not possible to transfer results to a next course.


This course makes full use of Blackboard for making available course materials, readings, announcements and grades.

Students are requested to register on Blackboard for this course.

Reading list

To be announced.


Students are required to register through uSis. To avoid mistakes and problems, students are strongly advised to register in uSis through the activity number which can be found in the timetable in the column under the heading “Act.nbr.”.

Not being registered, means no permission to attend this course. See also the ‘Registration procedures for classes and examinations’ for registration deadlines and more information on how to register.


Prof.dr.David Henley


Students with disabilities

The university is committed to supporting and accommodating students with disabilities as stated in the university protocol (especially pages 3-5). Students should contact Fenestra Disability Centre at least four weeks before the start of their courses to ensure that all necessary academic accomodations can be made in time conform the abovementioned protocol.

Academic Integrity

Students are expected to be familiar with Leiden University policies on plagiarism and academic integrity. Plagiarism will not be tolerated. If you submit any work with your name affixed to it, it is assumed to be your own work with all sources used properly indicated and documented in the text (with quotations and/or citations).