Critical Heritage Studies
MA courses on Critical Heritage Studies of Asia and Europe as part of MA Asian Studies: History, Arts and Culture
Heritage is both an area of significant research engagement and a space of political contestation. Originally a concept coined by the nation-state, it has become the object of intellectual reclamation by academic, associations, and activists. Institutional and non-institutional social actors in Asia and in Europe are increasingly involved in debating the legitimacy as well as the need to “safeguard” different expressions of heritage, ranging from museums establishment and management, and the development of cultural tourism projects to language protection/suppression policies and the inculcation of collective memory by educational establishments and other actors.
The course “Critical Approaches to Heritage Studies” and the course “Heritage Protection in a Global Context” are compulsory for this specialisation, besides the general compulsory courses for the History, Arts and Culture track.
The process of heritage-making thus entails various forms of conflict over the definition, ownership, and use of cultural attributes. Students enrolled in the M.A. program in “Critical Heritage Studies of Asia and Europe” will learn how to describe and account for the plurality of visions that surround these processes; to produce relevant scholarship on the controversial dimensions of heritage politics; to elaborate context-based understandings of heritage practices; to propose innovative historically and culturally sensitive policies and measures for heritage management; and to devise appropriate research methodologies capable of recognizing the wide range of social and cultural concerns involved. Students in this program are treated as active producers of knowledge and are encouraged to prepare for careers as informed researchers, policy-makers, activists, and practitioners.
The specialization “Critical Heritage Studies of Asia and Europe,” jointly initiated by the “International Institute for Asian Studies” (IIAS) and the “Leiden University Institute for Area Studies” (LIAS), considers Asia as a fertile source of insights both theoretical and methodological in this highly contested arena. Since colonial times, European-based concepts and technical approaches to conservation have dominated the understanding of heritage in Asia, usually through top-down imposition processes.
It is this hegemonic discourse, usually promoted by developmentalist states in Asia and elsewhere, as well as various processes of indigenous response, that the program is intended to highlight. This program thus aims to decentralize the production of knowledge and social agency. It does so by establishing a network of four partner universities located in Europe and Asia; the contributing institutions have already established a fruitful collaboration in teaching and research. In this context, the study of heritage is re-configured as a means of reconceptualizing relations between Asia and Europe in terms of mutual respect and exchange and the creative exploration of cultural forms and practices. Students can obtain the M.A. degree from Leiden University but can also engage in a Double Degree, offered by Leiden University and one of the Asian partners (currently National Taiwan University in Taipei, Yonsei University in Seoul, and Gadjah Madha University in Yogyakarta). This degree program prepares students to work in the following areas: academic research, planning, museum management, tourism industries, and heritage conservation.
For more information, please contact Dr. Adele Esposito
1-year Master Asian Studies : 2014-2015
In the one-year Master’s program in Asian Studies you will be able to deepen and broaden your knowledge of Asia as a whole or one of the regions within Asia. The different specialisations offered within this program cater for students both with and without prior proficiency in one or more Asian languages. In Asian Studies, you may focus on a specific region, choosing between China, Japan, Korea, South Asia or Southeast Asia. Alternatively, you may opt for an interregional, disciplinary emphasis, focusing on History, Arts, and Culture topics in the HAC specialisation, or on issues in Politics, Society and Economy in the PSE specialisation. The MA also has a special track Critical Heritage Studies as part of its History, Arts and Culture specialisation. The rich collections of the University Libraries in Asian Studies incorporate both the long textual tradition of Leiden University and the most up-to-date theories and approaches of history, literature, linguistics and the social sciences. Museums and other long-standing institutions in Leiden related to Asia provide much material for study. The one-year Master Asian Studies specifically encourages in-situ internships as part of the curriculum.
The master’s program in the one-year Asian Studies Master is divided into two semesters (each subdivided into two periods for some courses). Each semester consists of 30 EC. Students starting in September follow two compulsory courses in the fall (first) semester: Introduction to Asian Studies ( period I), and the Thesis Class (period II). Each counts for 5 EC, 10 EC in total.
In addition to these common courses, students take one or two courses that are specific to their specialisation – Core Electives. Students are permitted to choose one of the electives outside their own specialisation but within the Asian Studies Master to a maximum of 10 EC . In the spring (second) semester students take one or two Core Electives for a minimum of 15 EC, or fulfill this partially by an internship, and write their MA-Thesis (15 EC). Students of HAC and PSE tracks have a new compulsory Methods course in the spring ( their second) semester. Other MAAS students can take this as an Elective.
For students who start in the Spring Semester the programme has slightly been adapted. They take their Thesis Class (5 EC) in their first (spring) semester and the Introduction to Asian Studies (5 EC) together with the other students in their second (the fall) semester, and also write their MA-thesis (15 EC) in the fall semester. In the spring semester they take 25 EC Core Courses and Electives and one 10 EC Core Course in the fall semester. Students of East Asia tracks can only start advanced language courses in their second (fall) semester.
For students outside the East Asia tracks, a maximum of 10 EC beginner’s language course credits can be applied toward degree requirements. Students of HAC and PSE tracks have a new compulsory Methods course in the spring ( their second) semester.
MA East Asia Students can only count the Advanced Language credits that are a compulsory part of their program (15 EC) toward graduation.
Master’s thesis and requirements for graduation
In order to graduate, students must have successfully completed the 60 EC programme, including the MA thesis. The thesis is 15 EC, written in English and up to 10,000 words in length, including footnotes and bibliography. More details on the procedures regarding the MA-Thesis can be found in the course description.
The 1-year MA programme in Asian Studies offers the following specialisations:
History Arts and Culture , with an option Critical Heritage Studies
Politics, Society and Economy
East Asian Studies , subdivided into Japan, China and Korea tracks
South Asian Studies
Southeast Asian Studies