INTS 150, An Introduction to Southeast Asian Studies, provides a multidisciplinary glimpse into one of the most diverse regions of the world. No other region features the range of faiths, cultures, languages, economic development, and regime types found in Southeast Asia.
The course begins with a week of introduction and overview, then moves into a week of history before introducing the countries of Southeast Asia: Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Indonesia, and the Philippines. This section ends with a look at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and a midterm. Having laid some foundations, we then move on to discuss themes that cut across the region. I see this as a sampler of different scholarly fields: Diaspora and Asian American studies, economic development, political science, conflict and peace studies, gender studies, urban studies, indigenous studies, and then a look at music and film. Finally, students will vote on the last substantive class of the semester.
The primary objective of this course is to stimulate your interest in the region. If it totally satisfies your interest in Southeast Asia, I have failed. The course should make you want to visit the region and study it in greater detail (Learning Clusters?). Other learning objectives include developing an appreciation of the region’s diverse cultures (they are living cultures and are not ‘exotic’), a nuanced understanding of colonialism and its legacies, and a clearer picture of some of the many barriers to development.