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School of Law

Law and Society in Southeast Asia

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Term 1

This course begins with an interrogation of where and what is Southeast Asia and whether it is meaningful as a subject of legal inquiry. In pursuing this inquiry, students will be introduced to the history of Southeast Asia, its material culture, its overlapping polities and empires, its exposure to colonialism and its impact, and to its post-colonial economic development and legal trajectories.
The readings for the course will introduce students to a variety of theories and approaches used by legal scholars to understand law in Southeast Asia. The course will include an introductory section after which topics may, without excluding other topics, include law and the family, constitutional law, religion and the law, ethnic conflict and the law, and access to justice. The second half of the course will focus on a country chosen each year. In the first year of the course, the chosen country in Indonesia and this is reflected in the Reading List below.
Being a postgraduate class, students will be expected to participate with responses to the readings and in a discussion with others in the class. Students will be encouraged to take a contextual and interdisciplinary approach to the study of law in Southeast Asia inspired by weekly readings from the fields of history, area studies, political science, sociology, anthropology and comparative law. All readings will be in English, however, students will be encouraged to master some fundamental non-English terms. Students may read and make use of materials in the languages of Southeast Asia in their coursework provided bibliographic details are given also rendered in English.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the course

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to demonstrate:

  • a clear understanding of Southeast Asia's historical, cultural, political and legal complexities
  • an advanced understanding of influences on law in Southeast Asia
  • an understanding of the possibilities and limits of a search for coherence in law in Southeast Asia
  • an advanced ability to critically compare the various methods used by scholars to examine law in Southeast Asia
  • an advanced ability to explain the key terminology of past and present law in in Southeast Asia
  • a critical understanding of colonial, modernist and other epistemological and structural interventions into the knowledge systems and jurisprudential traditions of law in Southeast Asi
  •  an advanced comprehension of debates in the select topics of the second half of the course

Method of assessment

Coursework: 100%  (consisting of one 1500 word essay 15% cannot be resubmitted and one 4500 word essay 85% may be resubmitted).