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Cultures of Resistance in the Post-colonial World (ResMA)


This is the course description of last year, the new course description will follow soon

Admission requirements

Admission to the MA Asian Studies (research) or another relevant Research MA. Students from other departments are kindly referred to the course description of the regular MA course.


When and how does culture become a form of resistance? The attempts of new states to embrace modernity and development have been complicit in fostering a homogeneous national culture that erased difference. From the policing of the aesthetic to the recreation of glorious pasts by building cities and dams, modern states have bred discontent among their citizens. Resistance to this homogenizing project has emerged in the cultural field through counter cultural production as well as in protest movements and political engagement of members of subjugated cultures.

This course brings together multiple disciplinary, theoretical and material approaches to explore how notions of culture and that of resistance interact in postcolonial contexts. Taking examples essentially from South Asia it will discuss cultural forms, institutions, interventions and theorisations that have emerged across transnational contexts during and after decolonization,

The weekly seminars will carry both conceptual and concrete case-studies. Students will be encouraged to explore multiple meanings, forms and possibilities of resistance through and in culture. The seminar will introduce students to material from South-East Asia and the Middle East, while engaging with a still broader scope of theoretical literature from the Global South, covering texts from African and Latin American studies. Moving to and fro from theory to practice, the object of the seminar is to critically examine the braiding of culture and the political in the creation of postcolonial imaginations.

Course objectives

Participants in this course will acquire the following:
-an understanding of non-Western perspectives on social and cultural theory
-improved research skills, presentation skills, composition skills, and ability to critically evaluate readings


The timetable is available on the Asianstudies website

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

Attendance and active participation are obligatory for seminars. Students are required to prepare for and attend all sessions. The convenor needs to be informed without delay of any classes missed for a good reason (i.e. due to unforeseen circumstances such as illness, family issues, problems with residence permits, the Dutch railways in winter, etc.). In these cases it is up to the discretion of the convener(s) of the course whether or not the missed class will have to be made up with an extra assignment. The maximum of such absences during a semester is two. Being absent without notification and/or more than two times can result in exclusion from the term end exams and a failing grade for the course.

Course Load

Total course load for the course:

  • Contact hours Research MA: 6 hours
  • Lectures: 28 hours
  • Studying literature:112 hours ( 4 hours per week)
  • Writing paper and preparing for class presentation: 134 hours

Assessment method


  • Webpostings/Presentation/Attendance and Participation

  • Term Paper


  • Webpostings/Presentation/Attendance and Participation: 50%
    Guidelines will be given for the webpostings and presentation.

  • Term Paper (+/- 5,000 words): 50%


The final paper is written in two stages: a first version which will be commented on and a final version. Students who do not meet the deadline for the first version will lose the right to get comments and will only be graded based on their final version.

Exam Review

Students may request an oral elucidation of the assessment within 30 days after publication of the grade.


Yes, see for more info Blackboard

Note: there is no separate Blackboard page available for this ResMa course. Please subscribe to the Blackboard page of the regular MA course.

Reading list


For the Research MA students additional readings will be determined by the convener at a later stage taking into account the students’ fields of interest. Extra sessions will be organized to discuss this extra literature.


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.”. General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch

Registration à la carte or contractonderwijs

A la carte nor contractonderwijs is possible for this course.


Prof. Dr. N.K. Wickramasinghe Dr.S.Sunderason


Students with disabilities

The university is committed to supporting and accommodating students with disabilities as stated in the university protocol (especially pages 3-5). Students should contact Fenestra Disability Centre at least four weeks before the start of their courses to ensure that all necessary academic accommodations can be made in time conform the abovementioned protocol.

Academic Integrity

Students are expected to be familiar with Leiden University policies on plagiarism and academic integrity. Plagiarism will not be tolerated. If you submit any work with your name affixed to it, it is assumed to be your own work with all sources used properly indicated and documented in the text (with quotations and/or citations).