Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Politics and Culture of the Cold War in Southeast Asia
Academic Year
Semester 2
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminar 10 x 2 Hour Seminars


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Essay 1  2,500/3,000 word essay  50%
Semester Assessment Essay 2  2,500/3,000 word essay  50%
Supplementary Assessment Essay 1  2,500/3,000 word essay  50%
Supplementary Assessment Essay 2  2,500/3,000 word essay  50%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

Demonstrate a critical understanding of relevant themes and approaches in the history and historiography of the Cold War in Southeast Asia, with particular emphasis on establishing Southeast Asian agency.

Demonstrate through written work the ability to use of primary and secondary source material to develop sophisticated and well-structured arguments.

To be able to think critically about the use of culture as a tool for ideological production and political identity construction.


Academic rationale of the proposal:

This module will address the ways in which a range of actors tried to influence public perception in order to win `hearts and minds? during the Cold War in Southeast Asia. In particular it will seek to understand how cultural narratives were exploited, constructed or reconstructed in order to serve political agendas. Students will be encouraged to test common assumptions that see culture as autonomous from political identity in the post-colonial era. Rather, they will look at how culture was one of the most fertile fields within which ideology could be contested and international political arrangements secured. By exploring a range of primary and secondary sources, from original propaganda and government documents to cultural artefacts, the course will provide advanced insight into the impact of the Cold War on the region.

Brief Description:

The module will look at how Southeast Asia emerged during the Cold War as a major region of contested ideology. Starting with the end of the Second World War, the course will explore how American policy in particular had a significant impact on the political development of the region. It will also, however, explore how Asian leaders were able to exploit narratives of the Cold War to serve their own political agendas. In this way it will deal explicitly with the tensions that existed between local nationalisms and the imposition of a new international order. To do this, it will look at how cultural narratives about identity were used to subvert the popular desire for independence.

Content (indicative):

1. Origins of the Cold War in Southeast Asia
2. The First Indochina War: Nationalist Revolution or Communist Insurrection?
3. U.S. Psychological Strategy in Asia and the mobilization of U.S. popular culture
4. Modernization Theory, Area Studies and the creation of `Free Thailand?
5. U Nu of Burma: the politics of a Buddhist and a neutral
6. Performing independence at the Bandung Conference
7. Representing violence in Indonesia
8. The culture of revolution in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge
9. Monarchy and activism in Cold War Thailand
10. Remembering the Vietnam / American war

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number Through understanding of statistical and other numerical data as it relates to the topics under review
Communication Through seminar discussion and essay writing. Latter only is formally assessed.
Improving own Learning and Performance By guided reflection during seminars and feedback sessions following submission of written work.
Information Technology Through data retrieval exercises for research purposes and word-processing for essay writing purposes.
Personal Development and Career planning Through furthering understanding of approaches to the political and diplomatic history of the period, as well as the cultural narratives that underpinned them, there is a clear potential for research and history related careers.
Problem solving By relating historical material that deals with identity construction to its practical outcomes in terms of implementation of policy and the winning or losing of local legitimacy.
Research skills By learning how to identify appropriate primary and secondary sources from a range of materials and utilising that material in their work.
Subject Specific Skills By exploring Southeast Asia as an active and vital part of the international picture, the module will serve to enrich student understanding of the world today. It will help them to think critically about the way cultural narratives are employed in the media and by policy makers, and to explore how political legitimacy is won and lost through such a process.
Team work Through seminar work.


This module is at CQFW Level 7