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


Admission requirements

Successful completion of Seminar II: Heritage of South and Southeast Asia (5482VS213).
If you are interested in Seminar III: Futures but have NOT completed Seminar II: Heritage, 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 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.

  • To enable third year students to present aspects of their ongoing dissertation research, and to receive feedback from other students.



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 essay 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 a final essay.

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 essay (3500-4000 words0: 40% (wp)

The final paper is written in two stages: a first version which will be commented on by the lecturer(s), and a final version. Students who do not meet the deadline for the first version will lose the right to obtain comments and will be graded only on the basis of their final version.
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.


This course makes full use of Blackboard for making available course materials, readings, announcements and grades.
Students are requested to register on Blackboard for this course.

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