nl en

Nation, community, self: questions of culture in South and Southeast Asia


Admission requirements

Not applicable.


This course provides an introduction to the contemporary cultures of South and Southeast Asia—the cultural practices as well as their study. The course is arranged as a series of connected themes which are discussed from South and Southeast Asian perspectives as well as comparatively.

We begin by unpacking the major categories in terms of which the contemporary cultures of South and Southeast Asia are commonly analyzed, such as the “modernity” versus “tradition” paradigm, the idea of a “South Asian” versus a “Southeast Asian” region, and the notion of “culture” itself. The series of classes that follows is devoted to ordinary, everyday culture: daily life and religious practices, urban cultures, and media. The series of classes that follows is devoted to ordinary, everyday culture, “high culture”, questions of diversity and diaspora, heritage, the cultural policies of states and institutions, and other themes. We conclude with an overview of the main questions addressed in the course: matters cultural that are relevant to nations, communities and individuals in South and Southeast Asia.

Course objectives

  • knowledge of and insight into important cultural domains in contemporary South and Southeast Asia

  • knowledge of and insights into actual debates about culture in general and with regard to South and Southeast Asia

  • training of analytical skills with regard to questions of culture by means of critical analysis of scholarly studies on culture in South and Southeast Asia

Time table

See website

Mode of instruction

Lecture course (Hoorcollege)

Assessment method

  • written examination with essay questions (60% of overall mark)

  • three assignments about the course readings, to be submitted at determined points during the lecture course (40% of overall mark)


Blackboard is used for:

  • table of contents of the course

  • course materials

  • making available of assignments

  • submission of assignments by students

  • announcements

Blackboard serves as the primary means of communication about the course between instructors and students outside class meetings. Registration for the course on Blackboard is essential.

Reading list

A reading list to be determined later. The readings must be studied prior to the class in question.


Regsitration via uSis obligatory.
Regsitration for A la Carte
Registration for Contractonderwijs

Contact information

Prof. Dr. B. Arps