Colonial Legacies and Postcolonial Politics in Southeast Asia

Key information

Module not running
Module code
FHEQ Level
Department of Politics and International Studies

Module overview

This module introduces students to the broad contours of political change in countries in mainland Southeast Asia, namely Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. The aim of this module is to provide students with a conceptual framework for understanding the trajectories of mainland Southeast Asian politics from colonial times to the present. This framework is comparative and rooted in political sociology. It is interdisciplinary in terms of its readings, drawing on history, anthropology, and economics in addition to comparative politics. The module will help students develop a capacity for comparative analysis and for evaluating arguments about the role of factors such as class, race, state-building, culture, economics, international dynamics and religion on the political trajectories of the region as a whole and individual countries. This module has been developed together with Government and Politics of Island Southeast Asia.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

On successful completion of this module a student will be able to:

  • Demonstrate a general knowledge of the politics and 20th century history of mainland Southeast Asian countries,
  • Craft comparisons across countries in the region,
  • Apply theories from comparative politics to individual cases, and
  • Understand the fundamental elements of academic writing and research.


This module will be taught over 10 weeks with:

  • 1 hour lecture per week
  • 1 hour tutorial per week

Method of assessment

Assignment 1: Current Event Analysis 20%
Assignment 2: Abstract and Annotated Bibliography 10%
Assignment 3: Research Essay 70%

Suggested reading

  • James C. Scott, The Moral Economy of the Peasant: Rebellion and Subsistence in Southeast Asia (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1976), pp. 56-90,193-240
  • Benedict J. Tria Kerkvliet, "An approach for analysing state-society relations in Vietnam." Sojourn: Journal of Social Issues in Southeast Asia (Vol. 33, supplement: 2018), pp. S156- S198
  • Jonathan Sutton, "Hun Sen’s Consolidation of Personal Rule and the Closure of Political Space in Cambodia," Contemporary Southeast Asia (Vol. 40, No. 2: 2018), pp. 173-195
  • Kunal Mukherjee, "Race relations, nationalism and the humanitarian Rohingya crisis in contemporary Myanmar," Asian Journal of Political Science (2019): pp. 1-17
  • Eugénie Mérieau, "Thailand’s deep state, royal power and the constitutional court (1997–2015), "Journal of Contemporary Asia (Vol. 46, No. 3: 2016): 445-466


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules