Region-specific courses (15 credits)
Students chose one of the following regions: China, Japan/Korea, South-East Asia or South Asia
ACER23: Contemporary Chinese Society
The course surveys and analyzes the momentous social and cultural changes that have taken place in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in the wake of the economic reforms and China’s incorporation into the global community. It aims to give students a basic understanding of the co-existence of change with continuity from the past. It enables students to identify and critically examine some of the more salient issues and problems in Chinese society today and their social and political ramifications. Thus, the course explores continuities and changes with respect to social institutions, groups, relations, and identities, as well as cultural beliefs, values, norms and practices, and evaluate their significance for the individual, society, state, nation and global community.
In particular, the course analyzes how rapid economic, social, and spatial (e.g., environment, urbanization) changes have differently impacted the lives of women, youth, the elderly, religious and ethnic minorities, workers, peasants, migrants, intellectuals, and other social groups. At the level of institutions and organizations, the course focuses on family and household, schools, work, and formal and informal civic associations, citizenship, environment, and religion. Issues and problems of poverty and inequality, citizenship and governance, innovation and expression, demographic imbalance and generation gaps, consumption and value change, and shifting gender roles is discussed and contextualized. The construction and viability of diverse gender, religious, and ethnic identities in a complex multicultural society is also explored.
ACER24: Contemporary Japanese and Korean Societies
The course deals with some central themes related to Japanese and Korean societies with an emphasis on economy and politics. The concepts of continuity and change play a central role in the course. Students are expected to reflect on societal, political and economic change and continuity and how such developments can be understood.
ACER25: Contemporary South-East Asian Societies
The course deals with social, cultural, religious, political, and economic development in South-East Asia. It provides an insight into currents of change and continuity in the region. It looks, from a multidisciplinary perspective at processes of religious, political and social change and provides an insight into movements, conflicts, crises and recovery in South-East Asian societies. South-East Asia is often characterised as a meeting place for people from many cultural, ethnic and religious backgrounds and the exchange of ideas and international trade have a long history in South-East Asia.
The course is divided into four parts and the first part aims to give the student a basic understanding of socio cultural processes in the region. It focuses on religion as a field of meanings that informs individual people’s lives and strengthens social and political identities. It also discusses how religion influences social and political discourses. In South-East Asia religion is inter-twined in the daily life and the course gives example of how religion in various ways enables people to cope with daily existence and also to demonstrate their discontent. The second part of the course deals with transnational movements, ethnicity and also with crises and recovery in South-East Asian societies. Theories from different disciplines and ethnographic material will be used to explore the themes. The third part of the course deals with development, gender and migration in South-East Asia. The region is comprised of predominantly rural and agrarian societies. The economic growth in South-East Asia has during the past decades improved the material well-being and standard of living for some people while others remain poor. This part of the course will introduce development theories and examine different development policies. It aims to explore the gap between rich and poor and address development from a gender perspective. The fourth part of the course aims to give the students a broader perspective on contemporary South-East Asian society through the eyes of contemporary fiction.
The overall objective is to provide students with knowledge of different ways of exploring South-East Asia and different aspects of the life in the region with attention on current themes and the ways South-East Asian societies are understood from the region itself. Gender awareness would be mainstreamed throughout the course. Students read works from different disciplines and use them to investigate selected South-East Asian societies.
ACER26: Contemporary South Asian Societies
The course aims at giving a concrete analysis of region- and country specific processes of change in South Asia today. While earlier the perhaps most insulated geographical region in the old world, South Asia is today increasingly influenced by globalization in the economic, political and cultural spheres. The course analyses these processes of change in the context of globalization and economic liberalization. The course furthermore analyses social and political tensions and problems as a result of South Asia’s increasing incorporation in the global community. The focus will be on some key areas of concern; the implications of globalization for economic, social and political developments; the political capacity to handle these challenges at the various national and sub-national levels; the urgent issues of human development and environmental degradation; the challenges of diversity and asymmetries which will be studied in the context of gender, religion, ethnicity, migration, transnational movements, and diaspora and homeland relations. The course will provide the students with a basic understanding of the complexity of current developments, and enable them to critically examine these developments from multiple perspectives and in an interdisciplinary manner. In focus will be an analysis of how social and economic changes have influenced human development, and the different groups in South Asia. In this context issues such as poverty, inequality and discrimination will be discussed and contextualised. The construction of different cultural, religious, and ethnic identities in the South Asian multi-ethnic societies will also be discussed.
ACER22: Methodology in Theory and Practice (15 credits)
The course deals with methodological issues relating to the design and writing of a master’s thesis. In addition to the general introduction to the philosophy of sciences and research methodologies, the students get acquainted with the use of various methods in social research including a related range of techniques.
The course aims to provide an opportunity for reflection by presenting some of the key theoretical and methodological debates in the social sciences. These debates deal with issues such as the nature of justification in social inquiry, the distinction between causal explanation and interpretative understanding, the role of ‘language’ in social inquiry, the historical and philosophical meaning of ‘science’, and the importance of ethical and normative questions in the social sciences. The objective is to develop skills in designing, planning, carrying out, writing up and appraising research related to Asia and to introduce the students to the main methods in qualitative and quantitative research and related techniques. The research methods include research design, descriptive statistics, qualitative inquiry (case study, grounded theory, ethnography, narratives), interviewing, running focus groups, using observational techniques, adopting critical text analysis, practising critical source assessment, discourse analysis, analysing and interpreting data as well as presenting data, findings and conclusions.