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Thousands of local languages give testimony to Asia’s diversity, and yet the current and future relevance of this ethnic and cultural diversity, in the context of the national state and under the influence of globalisation, has become a topic of heated debate. This subject first explores a number of Asian cultures in-depth, through a careful selection of ethnographic texts. For each case study classic ethnographic material will be paired with the latest research on alternative modernities within the same society. This design will provide participants with an empirically grounded, longitudinal perspective on the ongoing tension between cultural continuity and change in Asia and elsewhere. Discussion will then focus on contemporary issues arising from such tensions, ranging from nativist identity politics to legitimate local struggles for self-determination. Growing calls in international policy circles for more recognition of the role of cultural diversity and local knowledge in addressing the major global challenges of the 21st century will also be considered in light of the case studies.
Intended learning outcomes
Upon successful completion of this subject, students should be able to:
- illustrate the rich diversity of cultural traditions across Asia with in-depth case studies;
- employ ethnographic methods and ethnographic data analysis;
- use case studies and regional comparative analysis to identify unique features and common themes across related societies within a region;
- use longitudinal comparison to identify and analyse social change as well as continuity;
- identify and analyse some of the characteristic issues arising when local societies come under the cultural, economic and political influence of encompassing nation states and globalisation;
- apply a range of theoretical tools to the analysis of social change;
- assess contemporary Asian cultures and their alternative modernities against the background of a knowledge of Asian traditions;
- describe how Asian societies’ cultural uniqueness has changed and is likely to evolve in future;
- explain how cultural diversity can be used as a resource for addressing global challenges; and
- explain why cultural diversity needs to be a key consideration in the local implementation of global change programs.
Students who successfully complete this subject should:
- gain cross-cultural awareness and skills in essay writing' and
- gain the ability to apply case studies and comparative analysis as general social science methods to a wide range of research problems.
Last updated: 6 December 2019