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Identity and Security in East Asia


Admission requirements

Elective course for MA International Studies Students and MA Asian Studies Students


What do US ‘Pivot to Asia’, Beijing’s ‘Chinese Dream’, Seoul’s ‘Trust Building Process’, Tokyo’s ‘Democratic Security Diamond’, the Sino-Japan and Korea-Japan territorial disputes, the history issues among China, Japan and Korea, the rise of East Asian nationalism in a globalizing world all have in common? They are all involved in the nexus between identity and security in East Asia. This course will move beyond traditional considerations of security and diplomacy in East Asia to critically examine how the state seeks to govern not just through high politics, but also through a management of identity practices. At the same time, it will consider how different non-state actors positively or negatively interplay with the state’s identity politics.
This course consists of three sections. The first section will consider theoretical approaches to identity in International Relations (IR) studies and studies of nationalism. The second section will examine the above-mentioned geopolitical discourses of East Asian states in international politics. The third section will explore ongoing, non-traditional security issues (Yasukuni, textbook, etc.) in terms of identity politics. Students will learn how to interpret political texts, and thus critically understand today’s identity politics in East Asia from different social, economic and cultural perspectives.

Course objectives

By the end of the course students will

  • have developed a comprehensive and considered understanding of the identity/security nexus in East Asia

  • have developed a critical understanding of the scholarly literature

  • be able to work with and be critical of key conceptual approaches such as various IR theories and theoretical approaches to nationalism and regionalism

  • be able to critically analyze primary sources (both official and cultural texts)

  • be able to identity salient issues and new areas for research within the field

  • have enhanced their critical, evaluative, analytical, communicative and problem-solving skills through participation in class discussions, research and problem-solving activities, presentation of research, and essay-writing.



Mode of instruction

Lecture, Seminar, and Presentation

Assessment method

Final grades for this module will be based on:
1. Attendance: 10%
2. Participation: 20%
3. Presentation: 20%
4. Long Essay: 50%


A detailed syllabus will be posted on Blackboard the week before the start of the semester. All course-related messages and additional academic information will also be found on Blackboard over the course of the semester.

Reading list

Callahan, William A. 2006. Cultural Governance and Resistance in Pacific Asia. London: Routledge.
Calhoun, Craig. 1997. Nationalism. Buckingham: Open University Press.
Rozman, Gilbert, ed. 2012. East Asian National Identities: Common Roots and Chinese Exceptionalism. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
Rozman, Gilbert, ed. 2013. National Identities & Bilateral Relations: Widening Gaps in East Asia and Chinese Demonization of the United States. Stanford: Stanford University Press.


Students can sign up to the class via USiS.