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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Judith A.N. Henchy
SISSE 420
Seattle Campus

Southeast Asian Knowledge and the Politics of Information

Overview of information resources in and about Southeast Asia, including evaluation of those sources within various theoretical articulations (scholastic, cultural, and political). Pedagogical implications of the life cycle of information; critique of these implications from various theoretical and cultural viewpoints.

Class description

This course will serve a dual purpose of introducing advanced students to information sources in and about the region, and teach them to evaluate those sources within various theoretical articulations: scholastic, cultural and political. It will offer an analysis of the pedagogical implications of the life cycle of information, and critique these assumptions from various theoretical and cultural viewpoints.

It will look at different kinds of local knowledge, and the development of information industries in the region, including the influences of Western philosophy and pedagogy on shaping that industry under colonialism. It will look at contemporary information sources, censorship and its implications for scholarship. It will examine theories influencing the ways in which information resources from regions such as Southeast Asia are archived and described – those dominant systems influencing the classification of textual knowledge in the Euro-American scholarly world. Tracing Heidegger’s notion of “conquest of the world as picture” we will question the idea of exhibitionary order, and the role of colonial (and postcolonial) discourses in positing Southeast Asian information resources as exotic objects on display.

The course will look questions of orality, the privileging of textuality in the fixing of knowledge, and the problems of translation in the interpretation of texts across thought worlds. It will examine the impact of the introduction of non-textual imagery on information production and consumption, in the form of newsprint advertising and photographic representation. We will also consider the implications of this “post-textual” world, including the rise of popular film culture and the “virtual” environment of electronic information media.

The reading will focus on examples from Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines, but students will be encouraged to look throughout Southeast Asia for case studies which are illustrative of the cultural and political change influencing information production, representation and consumption.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Recommended preparation

Class assignments and grading

Students will be graded on participation in class discussion (30%); short papers (1 -2 pages) discussing each week’s readings (30%) and a 40 page research paper (40%).


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Judith A.N. Henchy
Date: 09/22/2006