AN223      Half Unit
The Anthropology of Southeast Asia

This information is for the 2013/14 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Nicholas Long


This course is available on the BA in Anthropology and Law, BA in Social Anthropology and BSc in Social Anthropology. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit and to General Course students.


Undergraduates taking this course should have completed an introductory course in anthropology unless granted exemption by the course teacher.

Course content

This course will introduce students to selected theoretical and ethnographic issues in the history and contemporary life of Southeast Asia (including Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, The Philippines, and Vietnam).

The alleged distinctiveness of Southeast Asian gender relations, political leadership, and experiences of self and emotion have led to ethnographic studies of the region making major contributions to the anthropology of the state, sovereignty, globalisation, gender, identity, violence, and mental health. By providing a strong grounding in regional ethnographic materials, this course will equip students to critically evaluate such contributions and to consider possible further contributions that studies of Southeast Asia might make to anthropological debates. The course will also examine how anthropologists have responded to the interpretive challenges presented by selected aspects of Southeast Asia’s social and political life, such as the legacies of mass violence (e.g. the Cambodian genocide, the Vietnam War, or Indonesia’s massacre of suspected communists), its ethnic and religious pluralism, and the impact of international tourism.


10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the LT. 1 hour of lectures in the ST.

Film screenings will also take place throughout the term.

Formative coursework

Students are expected to prepare discussion material for presentation in the classes and are required to write assessment essays. Anthropology students taking this course will have an opportunity to submit a tutorial essay for this course to their personal tutors. For non-Anthropology students taking this course, a formative essay may be submitted to the course teacher.

Indicative reading

Useful histories of Southeast Asia / Southeast Asian anthropology

M.C. Ricklefs, B. Lockhart, A. Lau, P. Reyes, and M.A. Thwin, A New History of Southeast Asia (2010); V.T. King and W.D. Wilder, The Modern Anthropology of South-East Asia: An introduction (2003).


J.M. Atkinson and S. Errington (eds), Power and Difference: Gender in Island Southeast Asia (1990); J. Barker, E. Harms, and J. Lindquist (eds) Figures of Southeast Asian Modernity (2014); T. Li, Malays in Singapore: Culture, Economy and Ideology (1989); N.J. Long, Being Malay in Indonesia: Hopes, Histories and Citizenship in the Riau Archipelago (2013);

C. Schwenkel, The American War in Contemporary Vietnam: Transnational Remembrance and Representation (2009); J.C. Scott, The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist History of Upland Southeast Asia (2009); J.T. Sidel, Capital, Coercion, and Crime: Bossism in the Philippines (1999); M. Sinnott, Toms and Dees: Transgender Identity and Female Same-Sex Relationships in Thailand (2004); A.L. Tsing, In the Realm of the Diamond Queen: Marginality in an Out-of-the-way Place (1993). Detailed reading lists are provided at the beginning of the course



Exam (70%, duration: 2 hours) in the main exam period.
Essay (30%, 2500 words) in the LT.

Key facts

Department: Anthropology

Total students 2012/13: Unavailable

Average class size 2012/13: Unavailable

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information