Southeast Asian History National Taiwan University
This course offers students a board introductory survey of Southeast Asian history from the second half of the early modern period to the early twentieth century. The course is centered on a key problematic that characterizes the region — the tension between the region’s distinctiveness on one hand and its well-known openness to “external” influences on the other. Using updated historical scholarship on the region, the course situates Southeast Asia in the context of developments in world history. Students will learn about these key themes in Southeast Asian history: (1) indigenous social, cultural and religious systems and their interaction with “extra-regional” influences (2) intra-regional, Asian trade systems and mercantilism (3) “state” and imperial formations (4) European colonization and its effects on local societies (5) local responses to colonialism during the early twentieth century.
This course has three main objectives. First, it aims to give students an updated, clear and concise introduction in Southeast Asian history. Southeast Asian historiography has made tremendous strides in recent years with Southeast Asian historians engaging the scholarship on world history. Students will gain a good general understanding of the regions history which will enable them to develop deeper interests in specific topics or countries in Southeast Asia. Second, it aims to challenge students to think critically about global historical transformations from the perspective of Southeast Asia. The region has provided us with important examples that provoke and require critical thinking of how we understand board developments in human history. For instance, women in indigenous Southeast Asian social systems enjoyed rights and freedoms that we tend to associate with modern society. In fact, modernity has abetted the marginalization of women from central roles in Southeast Asian societies. Through exploring topics unique to Southeast Asian history, this course seeks not only to expand the knowledge of students on Southeast Asia but also to encourage them to think more deeply about global historical developments and transformations. Third, this course seeks to introduce students to the English language writings of influential Southeast Asian scholars. To this end, students will get to read the writings of notable Southeast Asian historians and scholars who have made an impact on the field.
As this course will be taught in English, students should come prepared to read, discuss and write assignments in English. Once every fortnight, there will be a discussion group where students must read an assigned text before coming to class and be prepared to discuss and express their views on what they have read. The discussion group component is a crucial element of the course and serves several purposes. First, the topic of discussion complements what was covered during the class in the previous week. Lectures will provide “breadth” to the topic at hand, while the discussion group component allows the class to delve deeper into one particular aspect or country, hence giving students better “depth” of every topic. Second, given that this course is taught in English, the discussion group component enables the instructor to keep track of whether students are keeping pace with the teaching and whether the pace or workload needs to be adjusted as the course progresses. Third, the discussion group component is aimed at discouraging rote learning and shifts responsibility for learning onto the students, whether individually or as a group. Students must therefore be prepared to learn not only from the instructor but also from one another in an interactive group setting.
Online Course Requirement