Cultural Studies of South and South East Asia

Key information

Start date
End date
Year of study
Year 2
Term 1
Module code
FHEQ Level
South East Asia Section

Module overview

This course offers a transdisciplinary look at contemporary cultural products and cultural modes of production in South and South East Asia. Combining the theoretical framework of British Cultural Studies (Hoggart, Hall, During) with the post-colonial discourses that have underpinned the study of culture in South and South East Asia, the course will explore how particular cultural practices in both regions relate to wider systems of power as embodied in belief systems, ethnicities, caste, national and transnational politics, language, and gender.

Working from non-essentialist views of culture as constantly changing sets of practices and processes, the course will seek to introduce the students to reading/readings of cultural texts and use these exercises as engaged approaches to a critical understanding of the cultures of both regions, as well as the continuities and discontinuities between them.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

At the completion of this module, students will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate understanding of foundational themes in the historical and contemporary cultures of South and South East Asia, as well as key concepts and debates in the field.
  2. Deploy critical skills for approaching the cultures of South and South East Asia, their places in world history and in contemporary global politics.
  3. Critique conventional representations and cultural essentialisms of both regions.
  4. Develop basic research and analytical skills necessary to responsibly approach the study of South and South East Asian cultures within any academic discipline or professional field.


This module will be taught over 10 weeks with a 1 hour lecture and a 1 hour tutorial per week.

Scope and syllabus

Topics may include:

  • Key concepts in cultural studies and encountering South and South East Asia
  • Authenticity, hybridity, and syncretism
  • The construction of state cultures
  • Art and activism
  • Religion and visuality
  • Cultural adaptation and intercultural influence
  • Representations of majorities and minorities
  • Cross-border culture wars
  • Borders and migration

Method of assessment

  • 40% Wikipedia entry, 1,000 words
  • 60% Essay, 1,500 words
  • Exact assessment deadline dates are published on the relevant module Moodle/BLE page.

Suggested reading

(Access the Moodle page for specific texts for each lecture)

  • Anderson, Benedict. Imagined Communities . London: Verso, 2006.
  • Vicente, Rafael, Contracting Colonialism . Duke University Press Books, 2012.
  • Fenella Cannell, Power and Intimacy in the Christian Philippines , Cambridge University Press, 1999.
  • Stoler, Ann Laura. Carnal Knowledge and Imperial Power . London/Berkeley: UCP, 2002.
  • Brink, J. and Oppenheimer, J., eds. Killer Images . New York: Columbia UP, 2012.
  • Sears, Laurie J., ed. Fantasizing the Feminine in Indonesia . Durham: Duke UP, 1996.
  • Heryanto, Ariel. Identity and Pleasure . Singapore: NUS Press, 2014.
  • Richman, Paula. ed. Many Ramayanas: The Diversity of a Narrative Tradition in South Asia . Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1997.
  • Ruthnum, Naben. Curry: Eating, Reading and Race . Melbourne: Text 2018.
  • Richman, Paula. ed. Ramayana Stories in Modern South India: an Anthology . Indiana University Press, 2008.
  • Ray, Krishnendu, and Tulasi Srinivas. Curried Cultures: Globalization, Food, and South Asia . BERKELEY; LOS ANGELES; LONDON: University of California Press, 2012
  • Bacchetta, P, Sunaina Maira, and Howard Winant. Global Raciality: Empire, Postcoloniality, Decoloniality . London, Routledge 2019.
  • Bacchetta, Paola. Gender in the Hindu Nation: Rss Women As Ideologues . New Delhi: Women Unlimited, 2004.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules