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ANY4440 - Asia and the West

12 points, SCA Band 1, 0.250 EFTSL

Undergraduate Faculty of Arts

Leader: Penny Graham


Not offered in 2007


This unit considers how categories like Asia and the West are constituted in the scholarly and popular imagination. Using film and written materials, the unit examines specific representations of Asian regions, cultures and societies with regard to issues of knowledge, power and subject position. Topics range from the problematic relationship between ecology and culture to a comparative analysis of how ancestral cosmologies, world religions, forms of modernity and the nation-state all work to shape local identities in Asia. Themes explored include how cross-cultural knowledge is constituted, how the workings of power are conceptualised and how status hierarchies are enacted and challenged.


On completion of this unit, students should be able to

  1. identify and critique key features of dichotomising accounts of Asia and the West (assessed in tasks 1 and 2);
  2. critically analyse a variety of tropes informing anthropological accounts of regions within Asia vis-a-vis the West (assessed in tasks 2 and 3);
  3. demonstrate a grasp of conceptual problems in the anthropological analysis of societies in Asia (assessed in tasks 2, 3 and 4);
  4. evaluate selected theoretical and ethnographic approaches to understanding the historical and sociological complexity of cultural and social formations in Asia (assessed in tasks 2, 3 and 4).


Seminar participation : 10%
Oral analytical presentation (2000) : 20%
Written ethnographic review (2000) : 20%
Topical research essay (4500 words) : 50%

Contact hours

33 hours: 3-hour workshops x 11 weeks during semester