Contemporary Southeast Asia

Spring 2020


Contemporary Southeast Asia (3 or 5 ECTS)

Course organiser: University of Turku/ University Network for Asian Studies

Times: Spring term 2020

Goals: Upon completion of the course, the student is able to understand the situational characteristics of the environmental change and state formation processes in the region and is familiar with the current scholarly work. She or he can identify and use relevant anthropological and development studies literature under the topic and pursue an independent small-scale study that incorporates to the student’s own research interests and aims.

Contents: Contemporary Southeast Asian countries are experiencing rapid economic, political and environmental change. The ethnic and social fabrics are diverse in each country, but in many of them societal tensions are on the rise. The governing arrangements are complex and the on-going state formation processes also significantly differ from each other in each country. Many of the countries are post-colonial states with histories of violent wars against the colonizers or internal conflicts between different politically oriented groups. Many Southeast Asian governments have prioritized rapid economic growth and development, and they increasingly engage in foreign trade, for example through the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). At the same time, environmental destruction and transformation of nature into commodities have taken place, contributing to uneven possibilities and distribution of wealth. Environmental transformations are part of the state formation processes, being also situational and contextual. In this course special attention will be given to environmental transformation and how it entangles with state formation processes. This includes attention to policies that allow and enhance commodification of natural resources. The aim is also to shed light to how different groups of people experience and response to these changes, and how their livelihoods and cultural systems are affected.

Taken as:

Online lectures, reading materials, small assignments, final exam.

Writing assignments and the essay can be written in either English or Finnish.

Grading: On a scale of 1–5

Application period: November 4-24, 2019.  Go to application instructions. This course has a maximum intake of 100 students. Students are selected in the order of application. The places are divided evenly between the member universities. Some universities may define quotas on the number of students who can take courses offered by the Asia Network. Information about the quotas is published before the application periods start.

Photo: Jukka Aukia