This course examines how the idea of Asia as a region has been constructed through various global interactions, including imperialism, anti-colonialism, tourism, diaspora, and transnational economies. We will analyze how people experience difference and similarity through these interactions; how they represent cultural encounters; and the political and economic effects of global circulations of people, things, and cultural representations. Our particular focus will be on how “Asia” emerges out of claims of commonality and distinction made by different people moving throughout the region.
Student learning goals
Our travels over the course of the quarter will require us to articulate debates about cultural representation, authenticity, economic development, social inequality, identity, gender, ethnicity, nationality, and globalization. Throughout this process, one of the main goals will be to challenge conventional, dichotomous mappings of East versus West. We will examine how “Asia” is not a geographic given but a cultural construction created through heterogeneous interactions and whose boundaries shift in response to political and economic dynamics. In order to do so, we will critically analyze the variety of social imaginaries inscribed onto the geography of Asia and consider how particular forms of travel, exchange, and circulation shape these imaginaries.
General method of instruction
This is a seminar-style course, with mini-lectures by the instructor at the beginning of each class meeting, to be followed by instructor- and student-facilitated discussion.
Students should be at the upper-level undergraduate or graduate level, with some previous coursework in Sociocultural Anthropology or Asian Studies and an active interest in the course topic. Critical thinking and clear expression of thought in discussion and writing will be stressed.
Class assignments and grading
Assignments include active class participation, short weekly responses on the course readings, a take-home midterm essay, and a final paper.
Each student’s performance will be evaluated as follows: Assignment One 5% 20 points Office Hour Visit 5% 20 points Class Participation 10% 40 points Class Facilitation 10% 40 points Weekly EPost Responses (8 total, 10 points each) 20% 80 points Take-Home Midterm 20% 80 points Final Paper 30% 120 points