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Seminar II: Futures of South and Southeast Asia (1415)


Admission requirements

Successful completion of Seminar I: Classical Cultures of South and Southeast Asia (5481VS112).
If you are interested in Seminar II: Futures but have NOT completed Seminar I: Classical Cultures, please contact student advisor Nicole van Os, copying your message also to course coordinator Prof.dr.David Henley.


This seminar series deals with past and present perceptions of the future in South and Southeast Asia, and with the roles played by those perceptions in shaping actual courses of events. Students will be exposed to pertinent literature from various disciplines, including history and anthropology. There are three related themes: (1) perceptions of time (calendrical systems, cyclic, linear and other models of historical change); (2) predictions and plans (augury, horoscopy, supernatural technologies for influencing the future, political programmes, development planning); and (3) counterfactual histories (‘What if?’ questions, turning points, historical momentum, chance and predetermination).
The format is inclusive and participatory, featuring student presentations and debate as well as guest lectures on future-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 stimulate students to expand and apply their knowledge of Asia past and present.

  • 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, and to use their imaginations.

  • 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

  • Seminar

Attendance and participation are obligatory. Classes missed for a good reason (to the discretion of the conveners and to be discussed BEFORE the class takes place) will have to be made up with an extra assignment. Being absent without notification can result in a lower grade or exclusion from the final exam and a failing grade for the course. Further details on Blackboard.

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 5.50 (=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 5.49 (=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 required to register through uSis. To avoid mistakes and problems, students are strongly advised to register in uSis through the activity number which can be found in the timetable in the column under the heading “Act.nbr.”.


Prof.dr.David Henley