PS 244 Introduction to Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia is a region that today consists of eleven nations: Brunei, Cambodia (Kampuchea), East Timor, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar (Burma), Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam, each with its own history, cultural and ethnic diversity, and political and socio-economic conditions. Nevertheless, it is a region–between China and India–that possesses many cultural and historical similarities and continuities that make it unique. This course is intended to provide a general introduction to Southeast Asia’s past and present. The course is organized chronologically around three broad periods: 1) traditional states and societies (to ca.1830); 2) colonial transformations and indigenous responses (ca.1830-1945); and 3) the emergence of modern nations (since 1945). Within these broad time frames, the course will explore several topics and themes, among them: the origins of indigenous states; religious conversion and practice; ethnicity, social organization, and gender relations; the impact of colonial domination; modern social and economic transformations; responses to colonial rule; the development of nationalist and socialist-communist movements and revolutions; the nature of post-colonial societies and political systems; ethnic conflict and national integration; the impact of Cold War international relations; and U.S. involvement and intervention in the region. Given the size and diversity of the region, the course will concentrate on four Southeast Asian countries: Vietnam, Philippines, Indonesia, and Thailand–those countries that are the primary research areas of UW-Madison’s Southeast Asia program and for which significant resources exist on campus: course offerings (including in languages), library holdings, and study abroad opportunities.