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Premodern History of South and Southeast Asia


Admission requirements



This course provides a long-term history of South and Southeast Asia from 3500 BCE to 1850 CE. After a historiographical (sources & concepts) and geopolitical (la longue durée) introduction the lectures engage (in chronological sequence) with themes that connect the various regions of South and Southeast Asia. We will compare the most prominent regional developments of settlement, agrarian expansion and state-formation and connect them through various trans-regional processes of migration, trade and conquest.
More in particular, the course will reflect on the unity and diversity of the SSEA region as a whole by discussing three regional varieties of globalization: Indianization, Islamization and Colonization.

Course objectives

Students will gain basic knowledge of the main developments of the pre-modern history of South and Southeast Asian history. They will be able to understand what long-term conditions and historical processes unified and divided the SSEA macro-region both internally and externally (compared to other regions like West and East Asia, Europe). Students will gain a sense that history itself is not somewhere out there but part of an ongoing process.



Mode of instruction

  • Lecture

Course Load

Total: 140 hours

  • Lectures (incl. learning): 40 hours

  • Literature: 100 hours

Assessment method

Midterm exam (written examination with short essay questions, 40%) and exam at end of the term (written examination with short essay questions, 60%); re-sit (written examination with short essay questions, 100%) at the end of the term.


Blackboard is used for practical instructions and publication of PP-presentations

Reading list

  • Thomas R. Trautmann, India: Brief History of a Civilization (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011): pp. 1-182.

  • André Wink, “From the Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean: Medieval History in Geographic Perspective”, Comparative Studies of Society and History (2002): pp. 416-45

  • M.C. Ricklefs et al., The New History of Southeast Asia (New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2010): pp. 1-238.


Registration via uSis

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Registration Studeren à la carte
Registration Contractonderwijs


Prof. Dr. J.J.L. Gommans