• Offered by School of Culture History and Language
  • ANU College ANU College of Asia and the Pacific
  • Course subject Asian Studies
  • Areas of interest Non Language Asian Studies
  • Academic career UGRD
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Offered in Second Semester 2017
    See Future Offerings

Shadows from the past hover over contemporary Asia. To understand the dynamics of Asian social, political and cultural developments, it is necessary to understand the historical dynamics that have led Asia to its current position. It is also necessary to understand the ways in which contemporary actors use history to serve and to frame their political, social and cultural interests. This course explores the ways in which historical memory - real and fabricated - is recruited to contemporary political causes. It explores the strategies that historians use to uncover the past and to assess its relevance for the present. Students will learn basic techniques for historical investigation - searching out evidence, dealing with a variety of sources and understanding how to cope with gaps, silences and uncertainties. The course will cover techniques that historians use to cut through deliberate manipulation and misinformation to get down to the truth. Students will consider whether truth may sometimes come at too high a price.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

Upon successfully completing this course, students will be able to:
- identify the principal social purposes to which history is put
- identify a variety of methodological approaches found in the work of professional, official and amateur historians
- identify the ways in which history is used to generate moral claims
- understand the most important elements of good historical practice

Other Information

The course will be taught semi-intensively (4 hours per week over 8 weeks).

Indicative Assessment

Five small writing tasks prepared for class 10%

Oral presentation 20% (rehearsal 5%, written summary and bibliog 5%, presentation 10%)

Research essay 40%

Exam 30%

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.


In general 90 mins lecture, 90 mins seminar/tutorial per week. Sometimes the activity will include excursions and relevant films or similar material.

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must have successfully completed 36 units of courses. You are not able to enrol in this course if you have previously completed POLS2102.

Preliminary Reading

David Hackett Fischer, Historians' Fallacies: Toward a Logic of Historical Thought.
John Tosh, Pursuit of History
Peter Charles Hoffer, The Historian's paradox
J.A. Barnes, A pack of lies: towards a sociology of lying, Cambridge University Press, 1994
Sissela Bok, Lying: moral choice in public and private life, New York: Vintage Books, 1989
Michael Lewis, Carolyn Saarni (eds.), Lying and deception in everyday life, New York: Guilford Press, 1993
Murty, B. S., The international law of propaganda: the ideological instrument and world public order, New Haven: New Haven Press, 1989
Thurlow, Richard C. ‘The Powers of Darkness: Conspiracy Belief and Political Strategy’. Patterns of Prejudice [Great Britain] 1978 12(6): 1-12, 23.
Desser, David. ‚From the Opium War to the Pacific War: Japanese Propaganda Films of World War II’ Film History [Australia] 1995 7(1): 32-48.
Bernays, Edward L., Propaganda  Brooklyn, N.Y.: IG Publishing, 2005
Huff, Darrell, How to lie with statistics, London: Gollancz, 1954

Frances Wood, Did Marco Polo go to China? New York: Westview Press, 1998
Stephan, John T., ‘The Tanaka Memorial (1927): Authentic or Spurious?’, Modern Asian Studies 7 no 4 (1973) pp. 733-745.
Horace Freeland  Judson, The great betrayal: fraud in science  Orlando: Harcourt, 2004
LaFollette, Marcel C.,  Stealing into print: fraud, plagiarism, and misconduct in scientific publishing  Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992
Brunvand, Jan Harold, The vanishing hitchhiker: American urban legends and their meanings New York: Norton, 1981
Georges Lefebvre, The great fear of 1789: Rural panic in revolutionary France New York: Schocken Books, 1989.
James Siegel, ""'I was not there, but...',"" Archipel 46 (1993), pp. 59-65
Chalmers, What is this thing called science?
Michael Shermer, Why people believe weird things (New York: Holt & Co. 2002)
John Roosa,  Pretext for Mass Murder: The September 30th Movement & Suharto's Coup D'État in Indonesia, Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2007
Robert Cribb, 'Genocide in Indonesia, 1965-1966', Journal of Genocide Research 3 no. 2 (June 2001), pp. 219–239
Daniel Pipes, The Hidden Hand: Middle Eastern Fears of Conspiracy. by New York: St. Martin's Press 1998.
Burhanuddin, ‘The Conspiracy of Jews: The Quest for Anti-Semitism in Media Dakwah’ Graduate Journal of Asia-Pacific Studies 5, Number 2, August 2007 http://www.arts.auckland.ac.nz/sites/index.cfm?P=11338
Kruger, Rayne The devil's discus (London: Cassell, 1964)
Stowe, Judith A, Siam becomes Thailand: a story of intrigue (London: Hurst, 1991)
Teiwes, Frederick C.,  The tragedy of Lin Biao: riding the tiger during the Cultural Revolution, 1966-1971  Bathurst, NSW: Crawford House Pub., 1996
Lynch, Daniel C. After the Propaganda State: Media, Politics, and ""Thought Work"" in Reformed China. Stanford: Stanford U. Pr., 1999. Desser, David. ‚From the Opium War to the Pacific War: Japanese Propaganda Films of World War II’ Film History [Australia] 1995 7(1): 32-48.
Larry Tye, The Father of Spin: Edward L. Bernays and The Birth of Public Relations
Anthony Rhodes, Propaganda: The art of persuasion: World War II,
John W. Dower, War Without Mercy: Race & Power in the Pacific War
Landsberger, Stefan, Chinese propaganda posters: from revolution to modernization Armonk, N.Y.: M.E. Sharpe, 1995
Lynch, Daniel C. After the propaganda state: media, politics, and ""thought work"" in reformed China Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1999.
Cheek, Timothy, Propaganda and culture in Mao's China: Deng Tuo and the intelligentsia Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997.
Gavin Menzies, 1421: the year China discovered the world London: Bantam, 2002
Rivers, P. J. ‘1421’ voyages: fact & fantasy Ipoh: Perak Academy, 2004
Wakabayashi, Bob Tadashi , ‘The Nanking 100-Man Killing Contest Debate: War Guilt Amid Fabricated Illusions, 1971–75""’, Journal of Japanese Studies 26 no 2 (2000), 307–340

Assumed Knowledge

Prior assumed knowledge: some studies in Asian Studies, Arts or Law.




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Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.  Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2017 $2856
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2017 $4080
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

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Second Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
9638 24 Jul 2017 31 Jul 2017 31 Aug 2017 27 Oct 2017 In Person N/A

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