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The Anthropology and Sociology of Modern Day South-East Asia


Admission requirements

The following categories of students can register for this course:

  • Students enrolled for BA “Culturele antropologie en ontwikkelingssociologie” at Leiden University, including the pre-master students of CA-OS

  • Students enrolled for BA programmes of the Faculty of Humanities of Leiden University

  • Erasmus Exchange students and Study Abroad students

  • “Contract-students”: Geïnteresseerden die dit vak als contractstudent willen volgen, dienen zich aan te melden volgens de procedure uiteengezet op deze pagina van de instituutswebsite: Afzonderlijke cursussen volgen bij CA-OS

Course Description

South-East Asia has been called anything, from a colonial construction to a cold war residual category, an economic miracle without precedence or merely a backyard of its more successful neighbors to the East and the North. This class will focus on the South-East Asian region in its own right dealing with the ways both South-Eeast Asia as well as the nations being part of it have been imagined and shaped by various actors in present times; from powerful capitals to its often porous borders, from dominant ethnicities to those living at the margins, and from local nationalist histories to pan regional initiatives such as ASEAN. We will scrutinize ideas of nation, state and citizenship by comparing examples from among others Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines.

Topics dealt with in this 12 week course include labor regimes and social inequalities, the new Asian middle class and its patterns of consumption, technonationalist state projects such as the national car and telecom industries, migration, popular religion, cultural heritage tourism, human rights, new sexual identities and the fate of Southeast Asia’s indigenous people in the 21st century.

What is the place of South-East Asia in today’s world, and what is its place in the mind of a colorful and widely divergent range of communities, people and citizens? While constantly questioning the merits of a comparative approach this course will strongly emphasize the ways South-East Asians themselves perceive of their region, as our weekly sessions will include discussion of actual essays, poetry and newspaper clipping on actual issues as well as scholarly analyses of regional experts.

N.B. Besides the classes we are planning a non-compulsory evening program in which we will regularly screen relevant feature movies, documentaries and short films of and dealing with South-East Asian people and nations. These films will be briefly introduced and are ideally followed by a group discussion.

Time table

  • Lectures:
    Fridays from 13th of February 2015 until 29th of May 2015, 10.00 – 13.00 hours, room SB11, Pieter de la Courtbuilding.

There will be no lectures on 27th of February and on te 15th of May 2015!

Methods of instruction

10 ECTS = 280 study hours (sbu):

  • Lectures 12 × 2 hours (36 sbu)

  • Tutorials 12 × 1 hours (24 sbu *)

  • Independant literature study 675 pages (112 sbu)

  • Bi-weekly assignments (32 sbu *)

  • Review essay 6 pages (48 sbu)

*Additional literature (ca.300 pages) is counted as part of the tutorials.


  • Seven assignments (40 % of the final grade)

  • Active class participation (present at min.10 of the 12 lectures);

  • Country report (20 % of the final grade) including a group presentation;

  • Review essay about one of the monographs (40 % of the final grade).

  • Re-do will be possible for parts of the final grade confom the course-syllabus.

See Blackboard for further details.

Exam registration

Students do not need to register for the exam through uSis because this course does not have one final (classical) exam.


  • Registration in Usis is obligatory for the lectures (H) for all participants.

  • Registration on Blackboard is obligarory for all participants.

  • Geïnteresseerden die dit vak als contractstudent willen volgen, dienen zich aan te melden volgens de procedure uiteengezet op deze pagina van de instituutswebsite: Afzonderlijke cursussen volgen bij CA-OS, alvorens inschrijving in Usis en op Blackboard.


Blackboard module will be active.
Students who have been granted admission must register for this course on Blackboard.

Study material

1. Electronic Reader (for more info see the Blackboard site from February 2015)

2. A monigraphy to be chosen from:

  • Wilson, A., (2004), The intimate economies of Bangkok: Tomboys, tycoons, and Avon ladies in the global city. Berkeley: University of California Press.

  • Wiegele, K. L. (2005). Investing in miracles: El Shaddai and the transformation of popular Catholicism in the Philippines. Southeast Asia: politics, meaning, memory. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press.

  • Hinton, A. L. (2005). Why did they kill? Cambodia in the shadow of genocide. California series in public anthropology, 11. Berkeley: University of California Press.

  • A. Noor, F. (2009). What your teacher didn’t tell you: The annexe lectures. Petaling Jaya: Matahari Books.


Dr. Bart Barendregt: , kamer 3A38
Prof. Dr. Patricia Spyer: , kamer 3A23
Prof. Dr. Gerard Persoon: , kamer 3A21