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Art and Power in Asia (ResMA)


Admission requirements

This course is open to students of the MA Asian Studies (research) or another relevant Research MA programmes, who are interested in Art History; Early Modern and Modern Asian Art; Visual Culture; Cultural politics; Cultural History; Global South and Transnational Asian Aesthetics; Asian Studies; Global History; International Studies.
Students from other departments are kindly referred to the course description of the regular MA course.


This course investigates how art and art practices have contributed to producing power as well as facilitating escape and resistance in early modern and modern Asia. We explore the connections and ruptures between early modernity and modernity in different regions of Asia with a focus on three major fields in which people created parallel spaces dominated by authorities and alternative communities: Space (Fan Lin), Escape (Doreen Mueller), and Opposition (Sanjukta Sunderason). The first two sections - Space and Escape - will focus on modes of expression in the visual culture of early modern Asia. In the Space section, we will examine three types of spatial realities: religious/auspicious space, urban space, and natural space in crisis. The section on escape moves to exploring modes of temporary withdrawal from orthodox realities in the form of retirement to nature, as well as urban forms of escape such as the theatre and eroticism. The third section - Opposition - moves to the modern period, and looks at 19th and 20th century art and visual cultures from Asia that emerged out of socio-political encounters and negotiations, and counter/hegemonic imaginations.

This pilot course brings together for the first time art from transnational Asian contexts and histories and forges dialogues between pre-modern and modern histories of art, as well as those between art-making, political thought, human-nature interfaces and meta-processes of empire, colonialism, decolonization, displacements and internationalisms.

Course objectives

  • Improved research skills

  • Critical reading and evaluation skills

  • Presentation skills

  • Composition and writing skills

  • Exposure to theoretical and archival material from the field


Visit MyTimetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

Attendance and participation are obligatory for seminars. Students are required to attend all sessions. The convenors need 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. Being absent without notification can result in a lower grade or exclusion from the term end exams and a failing grade for the course.

Course load

Total course load: 10 EC x 28 hours 280 hours
Classes (12 weeks x 2 contact hours) 24 hours
Extra contact hours ResMA students 6 hours
Practical work: Weekly group web-posting assignments & presentations 2 x 10 sessions 20 hours
Papers: 3 Short Essays for 3 modules (Space; Escape; Opposition) 100 hours
Studying: 40 pages (approx.) x 10 sessions 400 pages 130 hours

Assessment method

Academic Integrity

Students should familiarize themselves with the notion of academic integrity and the ways in which this plays out in their own work. A good place to start is this page. Plagiarism will not be tolerated. Students may not substantially reuse texts they have previously submitted in this or other courses. Minor overlap with previous work is allowed as long as it is duly noted in citation.

Assessment and weighing

Partial Assessment Weighing
Class participation/contribution, webpostings and presentations 40%
3 Short Essays of 1,500 words each on three key modules of the course (Space; Escape; Opposition): 3 x 20% 60%

Class participation/contribution, webpostings and presentations (through out the semester). These will include working in groups on webpostings and class presentations. Weekly webpostings of 250-300 words approx. will need to be submitted on Bightspace. Detailed instructions to be provided in class.


Resits will be allowed only for the final essays (60% of the course)

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

t.b.a. closer to the start of the semester


ResMA students taking the course for credit 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 “USIS-Actnbr.”. More information on uSis is available in Dutch and English. You can also have a look at the FAQ.



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.