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Nation, Community, Self: Questions of Culture in South and Southeast Asia


Admission requirements



This course provides an introduction to the contemporary cultures of South and Southeast Asia—the cultural practices as well as their study. The course is arranged as a series of connected themes which are discussed from South and Southeast Asian perspectives as well as comparatively.

We begin by unpacking the major categories in terms of which the contemporary cultures of South and Southeast Asia are commonly analyzed, such as the “modernity” versus “tradition” paradigm, the idea of a “South Asian” versus a “Southeast Asian” region, and the notion of “culture” itself. The series of classes that follows is devoted to ordinary, everyday culture, “high culture”, questions of diversity and diaspora, heritage, and other themes. We conclude with an overview of the main questions addressed in the course: matters cultural that are relevant to nations, communities and individuals in South and Southeast Asia.

Course objectives

  • knowledge of and insight into important cultural domains in contemporary South and Southeast Asia

  • knowledge of and insights into actual debates about culture in general and with regard to South and Southeast Asia

  • training of analytical skills with regard to questions of culture by means of critical analysis of scholarly studies on culture in South and Southeast Asia



Mode of instruction


Course Load

Total course load for the course: 140 hours.

  • Hours spent on attending lectures and seminars: 24 hours.

  • Approximate time for studying the compulsory literature: 78 hours

  • Approximate time for writing the assignment: 36 hours

  • Examination: 2 hours

Assessment method


The course is assessed in two ways:

  • Written examination

  • Mid-term assignment


  1. A written examination consisting of essay-type questions (60% of the overall mark).
  2. A mid-term assignment about the course readings, to be submitted at a determined point during the lecture course (40% of the overall mark).

The assignment will be an essay providing a detailed answer to a question relating to texts on the reading list.
In order to pass the course, students must obtain an an overall mark of “5.50” (=6) or higher.
An exam resit is possible only for element (1).
The course is an integrated whole. The final examination and the assignments must be completed in the same academic year. No partial marks can be carried over into following years.
Exam review
If a student requests in writing a review of his/her examination answer script within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will be organized.


Blackboard is used for:

  • table of contents of the course

  • course materials

  • making available of assignments

  • submission of assignments by students

  • announcements
    Blackboard serves as the primary channel of communication about the course between instructors and students outside class meetings. Registration for the course on Blackboard is essential.

Reading list

A reading list to be announced later. The readings must be studied prior to the class in question.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available on the website

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Studeren à la carte.


Dr. S. Sunderason Dr. J.W.P. van den Boogert


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