• Offered by Department of Political and Social Change
  • ANU College ANU College of Asia and the Pacific
  • Course subject Asian Studies
  • Areas of interest Political Sciences
  • Academic career UGRD
  • Course convener
    • Dr Robert Cribb
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Offered in First Semester 2020
    See Future Offerings

This course traces the historical development of Asia's diverse political systems. It examines underlying geo-political realities and their implications for political structure and focusses on the religious and political systems of thought that have shaped Asian political systems, especially regarding leadership, the family, ethnicity, social class and age. The course commences with the emergence of civilization in Asia, examines political structures as they were influenced by Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Islam and Christianity,  the transformation of ethnic and national identities brought about in the era of western imperialism, and the assertion of new political ideals inspired by communism, liberalism, religions and reinterpretations of the past.

Learning Outcomes

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

Upon Successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

1. Demonstrate a knowledge of the broad outlines of Asian political history

2. Identify links between political structures and ideological and religious thought in the Asian context

3. Use the categories class, gender, ethnicity and age as analytical templates for identifying diversity in Asian political systems.

4. Identify the argument in a scholarly article or chapter.

5. Prepare an analytical essay based on responsible practice and course presentation guidelines

Indicative Assessment

Diagnostic essay 15% [LO - 1,2,5]

Weekly quiz 10% [LO - 1]

Tutorial presentation 10% [LO - 4]

Final essay 25% [LO - 1-5]

Final exam 40% [LO - 1-3]

In response to COVID-19: Please note that Semester 2 Class Summary information (available under the classes tab) is as up to date as possible. Changes to Class Summaries not captured by this publication will be available to enrolled students via Wattle. 

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.


Attendance and class preparation: 1 x 2 hour lecture, 1 x 1 hour tutorial per week, 1 x 1 hour reading

Preparation on completion of assessment items: 120 hours (unevenly spread through the semester)

Preliminary Reading

Sahlins, Marshall, 'The Stranger King', Indonesia and the Malay World  36, Issue 105 (July 2008) pp. 177–199
Shamsul A. B. 'Malaysia's Nation-of-lntent' in Asian Forms of the Nation, edited by Stein Tonnesson and Han Antlov, pp. 323-347. London: Curzon, 1996.
Van Schendel, Willem, ‘Geographies of knowing, geographies of ignorance: jumping scale in Southeast Asia’, Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 20, 6, 2002, pp. 647–68.
Jonathan Spence, ‘Chinese Society and the Reign of Qianlong,’ in The Search for Modern China, chapter 5, pp. 90-116.
Nicholas Dirks, The Scandal of Empire, Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press 2006, Ch. 1.
Nicholas Dirks, ‘The Invention of Caste: Civil Society in Colonial India’, Social Analysis, 25, September 1989, pp. 42-52.
Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities
Eric Hobsbawm, The Invention of Tradition

Ebrey and Smith, State power in China, 900-1325 (Washington, 2016)
Guy, Qing governors and their provinces (Washington 2012)
Duncan, Origins of the Choson dynasty (Washington 2000)
Palais, Confucian statecraft and Korean Institutions (Washington 2000)
Immanuel Hsu, ‘The Opium War’, in The Rise of Modern China, pp. 168-93.
Peter Zarrow, ‘Ideas and Ideals in the fall of the Qing’ in China in War and Revolution 1895-1949, pp. 53-74.
Frank Dikotter, 2010: Mao's Great Famine: The History of China's Most Devastating Catastrophe, 1958–62
Frank Dikotter, 2016: The Cultural Revolution: A People's History, 1962-1976
Mitter, Rana. A Bitter Revolution: China’s Struggle with the Modern World. Oxford:
Oxford University Press, 2004.
Zarrow, Peter. China in War and Revolution 1895-1949. London: Routledge, 2005.
Owen Lattimore, Inner Asian Frontiers of China (New York: American Geographical Society, 1940).
Thomas Barfield, The Perilous Frontier: Nomadic Empires and China 221 B.C. to AD 1757 (Blackwell)
Victor Lieberman, Strange Parallels: Southeast Asia in Global Context, c. 800– 1830Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003)
Niels Steensgaard, The Asian trade revolution of the seventeenth century : the East India companies and the decline of the caravan trade (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1974)
The last stand of Asian autonomies : responses to modernity in the diverse states of Southeast Asia and Korea, 1750-1900 / edited by Anthony Reid (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1997)
Crispin Bates, Subalterns and the Raj: South Asia since 1600, London: Routledge, 2007.
J.F. Richards, The Mughal Empire, Cambridge, 1993.
Harald Fisher Tine and Michael Mann (Eds), Colonialism as Civilising Mission: Cultural Ideology in British India, Anthem Press, 2004.
K. N. Chaudhuri, Asia Before Europe: Economy and Civilisation of the Indian Ocean from the Rise of Islam to 1750, Cambridge Uni Press, 1990.
Andre Gunder Frank, ReOrient: Global Economy in the Asian Age, Berkeley: Uni of California, 1998.
Paul Brass, ‘Explaining Communal Violence’, in The Production of Hindu-Muslim Violence in
Contemporary India, Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2003, pp. 5-37.
Yasmin Khan, The Great Partition, Yale University Press, London, 2007.
Beasley, W.G., The Meiji Restoration, Stanford University Press, 1972.
Gluck, Carol, Japan’s Modern Myths: Ideology in the Late Meiji Period, Princeton, 1985
Waswo, Ann, Modern Japanese Society, 1868–1994, Oxford and New York, Oxford University Press, 1996.
Dower, John W., Embracing defeat: Japan in the wake of World War II (New York : W.W. Norton, 1999)
M.C. Ricklefs et al., A new history of Southeast Asia (Palgrave, 2010)
Tuong Vu and Wasana Wongsurawat, eds, Dynamics of the Cold War in Asia : ideology, identity, and culture
New York : Palgrave Macmillan, 2009
Bruce Cumings, The Korean War: A History

Plus: New Fontana Dictionary of Modern Thought (by Alan Bullock and Stephen Trombley, HarperCollins, 2000)




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Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

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6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2020 $3840
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2020 $5460
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First Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
3388 24 Feb 2020 02 Mar 2020 08 May 2020 05 Jun 2020 In Person View

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