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Asia through Consumption


Admission requirements

Only for students of MA programme in Asian Studies. Students who are interested in taking this course, but who are not admitted to one of the mentioned master programmes are requested to contact their co-ordinator of studies.


Mass availability of consumer goods has had the most significant impact upon the way of life of ordinary people during the last hundred years. No aspect of daily life has been left untouched by the emergence of the consumer society. It has not only satisfied our needs, and created new ones, but also in many ways affected the ways we view the world and our position in it. Consumerism, which may be defined as the cultural expression and manifestation of the routine practices of consumption, not only structures our everyday lives, but also offers us the illusion of freedom. This course will explore the historical transformation of consumption and its growing impact on society, with particular reference to Asia.

Course objectives

This course aims to introduce students to the key theoretical and conceptual literature on consumer society and to familiarize them with the ways to apply this literature to the study of Asian societies in both historical and contemporary contexts. We will explore the place of consumption (of both material objects and experiences) within modernity and post-modernity.



Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

Course load

Total course load for this course is 140 hours
Hours spent on attending seminars = 24 hours
Time for studying the compulsory literature and preparing discussion questions = 66 hours
Time for completing assignments (two position papers = 6 hours + a research paper = 44 hours) = 50 hours

Assessment method

Participation element (attendance, weekly discussion assignments): 40%
Analytic element (2 position papers): 20%
Research element (research essay 4000 words): 40%


Blackboard will be used extensively in this course.

Reading list

Readings will be made available for download through Blackboard and/or the University Library, or will be on reserve in the East Asia Library.
The key readings (recommended for purchase) are available very cheaply (used books) via

You might also try to buy the books from the students who followed this course last year (contact them via ‘MA Japanese Studies 120 + 60 Leiden’ Facebook group )


Enroll via Usis


Mw. Prof. Dr. K.J. Cwiertka


In order to prepare for the first session, please sign-up for this course on Blackboard, download the syllabus and follow the instructions.