South East Asian Societies - SE547

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2020 to 2021.


To what extent is Southeast Asia a field of anthropological enquiry? Can we identify distinctive cultural similarities in this region diverse in politics and religion? How have historical, economic, political and ecological changes affected different Southeast Asian societies? With a strong emphasis on Austronesian-speaking peoples of island Southeast Asia, this course covers a selected range of key topics in anthropology. These include the differences between lowland and upland societies, the impact of colonial encounters, kinship and social organisation, power, hierarchy and the state, as well as gender, religion, ethnicity and nationalism, conflict, death, modernity, history and social change.


This module appears in the following module collections.

Contact hours

Contact Hours: 22
Private Study Hours: 128
Total Study Hours: 150 hours


BSc Anthropology and associated programmes; BA Social Anthropology and associated programmes

Method of assessment

40% written commentaries on weekly readings (cumulative mark for a portfolio of selected readings – overall word count 2500 words)
60% 2000 word essay

Indicative reading

Brenner, S.A. (1998) The Domestication of Desire: Women, Wealth and Modernity in Java. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.
Cannell, F. (1999) Power and Intimacy in the Christian Philippines. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Leo Howe (2002) Hinduism and Hierarchy in Bali
V. King and W. Wilder (2003) The Modern Anthropology of South-East Asia

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

Identify the countries of the region and their important geographical features;
Identify the principal ethnic groups and describe their religious beliefs and practices and patterns of kinship organisation;
Critically discuss problems arising from modernisation and development in the region;
Critically discuss issues of gender and hierarchy as they affect the region today.
Consider in depth complex problems that arise in small communities as a consequence of social change


  1. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  2. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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