• Offered by School of Culture History and Language
  • ANU College ANU College of Asia and the Pacific
  • Course subject Asian Studies
  • Areas of interest Anthropology, Non Language Asian Studies, Cultural Studies, Asia Pacific Studies, Asia-Pacific Studies
  • Academic career UGRD
  • Course convener
    • AsPr Jane Ferguson
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Offered in Second Semester 2024
    See Future Offerings

Many courses assume the nation-state as the initial unit of analysis and inquiry, but this course asks: What happens when we turn our focus to borders and borderlands? This course shifts to look at margins and borders in order to understand the broader (sub) and (supra) state historic, economic, cultural, and political processes throughout the region of Mainland Southeast Asia, including narcotics production and transfer, and other illicit economies. This course is divided into two major parts: first, we will examine transnational historic processes which are themselves transgressive of state boundaries, and second, we will look at the ways in which borders themselves are mobilized as part of the state's assertion of sovereignty over geography, however incomplete this might be.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Develop a critical analysis on how to approach historical and cultural processes in Mainland Southeast Asia outside the framework of the nation-state.
  2. Evaluate historical events and political crises according to borderlands approaches. 
  3. Combine conventional understandings of commodity relationships to describe the international narcotics trade and the role of the borderlands. 
  4. Demonstrate collaborative learning skills in group discussions
  5. Develop and problematise an original research question related to course materials

Indicative Assessment

  1. Discussion, Participation and Reading Presentations (20) [LO 1,2,3,4]
  2. Short Essay 1 (1,000 words) (20) [LO 1,2]
  3. Essay 2 (1,500words) (20) [LO 1,3]
  4. Independent Research Paper (2,500 words) (40) [LO 1,2,3,5]

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.


This course requires a total of 130 hrs of work on the following activities: attending, lectures, tutorial, preparing in-class presentations, reviewing, and independent study. 

Inherent Requirements

Not applicable

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must have successfully completed at least 24 units of university courses.

Prescribed Texts


Preliminary Reading

1. Pinkaew Luangaramsri. 2003. "Ethnicity and the politics of ethnic classification in Thailand" in Mackerras, Colin, ed. Ethnicity in Asia. London: Routledge. pp. 157-173. 

2. Niti Pawakapan. 2006. "Once were Burmese Shans: Reinventing Ethnic Identity in Northwestern Thailand" in Horstmann and Wadley. Centering the Margin: Agency and Narrative in Southeast Asian Borderlands. New York: Berghahn. pp 27-52. 

3. Tagliacozzo, Eric. 2001. “Border Permeability and the State in Southeast Asia: Contraband and Regional Security” Contemporary Southeast Asia. 23 (2) pp 254- 274. 

4. Chang, Wen-Chin. 2013. “The everyday politics of the underground trade in Burma by the Yunnanese Chinese since the Burmese socialist era.” Journal of Southeast Asian Studies. 44(2) 292-314. june 

5. McCoy, Alfred W. 2000. “Coercion and its unintended consequences: A study of heroin trafficking in Southeast and South West Asia,” Crime Law and Social Change.33(3): 191-224. 

6. Seltzer, Alexandra. 2013. “Human trafficking: the case of Burmese refugees in Thailand” International Journal of Comparative and Applied Criminal Justice. 37(4) 

7. Farzana, Kazi Fahmida. 2015. “Boundaries in Shaping the Rohingya Identity and the Shifting Context of Borderland Politics” Studies in Ethnicity and Nationalism. 15 (2): 292-314. 

8. Malkki, Liisa H. 1995. “Refugees and Exile: From “Refugee Studies” to the National Order of Things.” Annual Review of Anthropology. 24.  

9. Star, Heather Marie. 2015. “Hiding Behind the Humanitarian Label: Refugees, Repatriates, and the Rebuilding of America’s Benevolent Image After the Vietnam War”Diplomatic History. 39(2).  

10. Roszko, Edyta. 2015. “Maritime territorialisation as performance of sovereignty and nationhood in the South China Sea” Nations and Nationalism. 21(2): 230-249. 

11. Sasges, Gerard. 2016. “Absent Maps, Marine Science, and the Reimagination of the South China Sea, 1922 - 1939.” The Journal of Asian Studies. 75(1) 

Assumed Knowledge

Prior study of Southeast Asia is desirable, but not required 


Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

Commonwealth Support (CSP) Students
If you 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). More information about your student contribution amount for each course at Fees

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are a domestic graduate coursework student with a Domestic Tuition Fee (DTF) place or international student you will be required to pay course tuition fees (see below). Course tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found 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
2024 $4080
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2024 $5280
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

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The list of offerings for future years is indicative only.
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

Second Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
8690 22 Jul 2024 29 Jul 2024 31 Aug 2024 25 Oct 2024 In Person N/A

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