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Seminar II: Heritage of South and Southeast Asia


Admission requirements

Having successfully finished 5481VS112 Classical Cultures of SSEA: Seminar I. Please, contact the student advisor, Nicole A.N.M. van Os 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

  • Workgroup

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 for the final examination.

Assessment method

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

  • presentation and participation: 10% (op)

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

  • final examination: 40% (2nd year students only) (we)

In order to pass the course, students must obtain an an overall mark of 6 or higher. A resit of the final examination is possible for 2nd year students who have participated in the main final examination and received an overall mark for the course of 5 or lower.

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.

Reading list

To be announced.


Students are requested to register through uSis, the registration system of Leiden University for this course. General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch.


Prof.dr.David Henley