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Seminar 2: Futures of SSEA


Admission requirements

Completion of first year of South and Southeast Asian Studies; students with other backgrounds may, however, be eligible for admission at the lecturers’ discretion.


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. There are three related themes:

  • perceptions of time (calendrical systems, cyclic, linear and other models of historical change);

  • predictions and plans (augury, horoscopy, supernatural technologies for influencing the future, political programmes, development planning);

  • 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 and periods from inside and outside the university. Each seminar in the series is structured partly around the interpretation and discussion of a specific primary source.

Course objectives

This seminar series is designed to stimulate students to expand and apply their knowledge of Asia past and present, to analyse primary sources, to present and contest arguments, to relativize culturally specific assumptions, and to use their imaginations. It also meets 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.


See website

Mode of instruction

Guided discussion seminars

140 hours in total for 5 ECs, of which 24 hours of guided seminars and the remainder to be spent on reading (average of 4 hours a week) and preparing one assignment and seminar presentation, and the final examination.

Assessment method

  • Participation (15%)

  • Presentation (15%)

  • Written assignment (20%)

  • Final examination (50%)


Blackboard page available.

Reading list

To be announced.


Registration via Usis is required.

Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply.

Contact information

David Henley