Geography of Southeast Asia
Wednesday 2:00-5:00 PM
Credit Hours: 3
Course website: https://www.geog.ubc.ca/courses/geog484
Office: Geography 140B
M 2:00-4:00 PM
or by appointment
[NOTE: THIS SYLLABUS IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE BY THE INSTRUCTOR]
The region called Southeast Asia has for many centuries been deeply interconnected with
peoples and places throughout the world. Yet attention to Southeast Asia by most people in the
West has been sporadic, and has tended to partition events such as the Vietnam War, the Asian
economic crisis, or political upheavals in Indonesia and the Philippines from events in the rest of
the world. This senior seminar attempts to give a deeper sense of Southeast Asia’s complex
relationships to the rest of the world by providing a geographical, sociological, and political
economic survey of Southeast Asia, focusing especially on development from the 19th century
colonial period to the present. Topics to be covered include: historical patterns of trade,
migration, and regional integration; the impact of colonialism; nationalism and revolution; the
impact of the Cold War, the Vietnam War, and US intervention; the rise of the Southeast Asian
newly industrializing countries; communism and the transitional economies in the post-Soviet
era; contemporary patterns of agrarian change, urbanization, and industrialization; changing
gender relations; contemporary environmental challenges; political struggle and democratization;
regional conflicts and cooperation; the impact of the Asian economic crisis; and the “war on
terrorism” in Southeast Asia.
There are no prerequisites for this course, but either Geography 352 (Urbanization in the Global
South), Geography 380 (Human Geography of Asia), or previous coursework on development
issues, Asia, and/or the Global South are recommended.
Students are expected to attend class sessions, listen to lectures and presentations, participate in
discussions, read the assigned readings, and participate in a discussion presentation and a
presentation on the Vietnam War. Grades will be based on the following assignments:
Discussion Presentation 10%
Course Participation 20%
Vietnam War Presentation and Image Rationale 30%
Term Paper 40%
Expectations for the Discussion Presentation and Course Participation will be explained in class
during week 1. Specific expectations determining the scoring of the Vietnam War Presentation
and the Term Paper will be discussed at the time these are handed out.
Final grades will be determined according to the following point system:
80 points or more A
68-79 points B
55-67 points C
50-54 points D
49 points or less F
Improvement will also be counted in determining the final course grade. Students whose grade
is on a borderline will be given a higher grade if they have shown improvement over the course
of the term. Students who plagiarize once will be given a failing grade on the assignment.
Those who plagiarize twice will be given a failing grade for the course.
Wednesday, October 12: Vietnam War presentations.
Monday, December 12: Final Paper due.
A late Final Paper will be docked 10 percent for each day it is late. There will be no
exceptions to this except for cases of serious health problems or other documented
emergencies that prevent completion of the assignment on time.
All readings for the course are available in a packet, which includes the pieces that are the basis
for the weekly discussion, as well as all other required readings. This packet is available in the
UBC Bookstore. Journal articles included in the packet may also be downloaded directly via the
UBC Library’s journal access system, but most readings are book chapters and are easiest to
obtain by purchasing the packet.
Lecture, Discussion, and Reading Schedule
Week 1 (September 7)
Lecture topics: Overview; physical geography
Discussion topic: How did Southeast Asia come into being?
Week 2 (September 14)
Lecture topics: Demography; culture; ancient history
Discussion topic: Were women in ancient Southeast Asia empowered?
Required readings: Reid, Errington
Week 3 (September 21)
Lecture topics: Colonial history; anti-colonial struggles
Discussion topic: Were pre-colonial Southeast Asian economies self-sufficient?
Required readings: Nartsupha, Bowie
Week 4 (September 28)
Lecture topics: Vietnam wars
Discussion topic: Were colonial peasants safety-oriented or entrepreneurial?
Required readings: Popkin, Scott
Week 5 (October 5)
Lecture topics: Vietnam wars, Laos, Cambodia, and the aftermath
Discussion topic: What was the relationship between Communism, Nationalism, and
class struggle in the Vietnamese revolutionary struggle?
Required readings: Neil, Bello
Week 6 (October 12)
In-class assignment: Presentations on the Vietnam Wars
Week 7 (October 19)
Lecture topics: the Southeast Asian NICs; theories of development
Discussion topic: Does industrialization improve women’s prospects?
Required reading: Pangsapa, Baghwati
Week 8 (October 26)
Lecture topics: Trade and development in the Southeast Asian NICs; regional integration
Discussion topic: What should states do to foster development?
Required reading: World Bank, Wade
Week 9 (November 2)
Lecture topics: “Asian values”; the transitional economies
Discussion topic: What are “Asian values”?
Required readings: Barr (2), Beng Huat
Week 10 (November 9)
Lecture topics: the transitional economies; democracy in Southeast Asia
Discussion topic: What becomes of democracy in the post-Cold War era?
Required readings: Kasian, Thongchai
Week 11 (November 16)
Lecture topics: Economic crisis and political restructuring in Indonesia
Discussion topic: What is “political Islam”?
Required readings: Huntington, Raheim
Week 12 (November 23)
Lecture topics: the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand and the “war on terror”; Timor Leste
Video: “The Diplomat”
Discussion topic: What are the best paths to development in Timor Leste?
Required readings: Tanter, Nevins
Week 13 (November 30)
Lecture topic: Southeast Asia, China, and the world; political crisis in Thailand
Discussion topic: Southeast Asia between Japan, the US, and China
Final Paper due Monday 12 December in room 217 Geography