IDENTITIES IN ASIA
2018/2019, Semester 2
Non-Faculty-Based Departments (College of Alice & Peter Tan)
Modular Credits: 4
This course explores identity-formation in Asia from topdown and bottom-up perspectives, by looking at how authorities, communities and individuals construct their collective identities. The concept of ‘identity’ is a contentious site as it deals with issues of belonging, imagining communities and defining one’s trajectory (identity-formation). Looking at historical cases to cross-compare examples among Asian societies, the course aims to encourage students to investigate groups and their relationships to their surrounding communities (families, societies and gender) and to examine the relations between state and identity, and between social activism and identity.
Periodic joint-class sessions meet on Tuesdays from 6-8pm in LT50 in SRC, starting week 1 (Intro).
Seminar-style classes for Dr. Kevin meet on Thursdays from 3-5pm and 5-7pm in room #3.
Seminar-style classes for Dr. Anne meet on Mondays & Wednesdays from 10-12pm in room #3.
Instructor: Dr. Kevin McGahan
Consultation: By appointment
Instructor: Dr. Anne Raffin
Consultation: By appointment
This multidisciplinary module critically examines identity formation and change over time in Asia, broadly defined. The class will explore such identity-formation from both top-down and bottom-up approaches by looking at how authorities, communities, and individuals construct collective and personal identities. The concept of identity is highly contentious, as it addresses issues of belonging, imagining, and defining one’s self. By highlighting particular case studies for comparison across time and geographical space, the module aims to encourage students to question assumptions about different group identities and think critically about controversial identities as well as recognize how identities are shaped by their relationships to various institutions, such as families, state agencies, schools, businesses and even social media networks.
By taking this module, students will learn and apply basic theories and concepts to examine various aspects of identity formation and change over time. Such concepts notably include the nation/state, the self/other, and citizen/non-citizen. In addition, students will leave this module with critical thinking and communication skills, as the class will challenge and discuss various assumptions about identities in Singapore and beyond. Lastly, students will reflect upon and apply their insights about the importance of identities in Asia for community engagement as well as personal and professional development.
Requirements and Evaluation:
This module requires students to attend each class as well as class activity (e.g., field trip, reading group). It also involves smaller seminar-style classes that are largely focused on student-driven discussions. To facilitate this process and ensure active student participation,
I will expect students to have completed the required readings before the class meets
Also, please note that if you have
documented disability, contact me immediately. I am happy to accommodate students in maintaining an appropriate learning environment.
Students will be graded on their
attendance and participation
, which is premised on regular attendance and interactions during joint sessions and seminars. Importantly, students
must attend all classes and class activities
such as field trips (e.g., visits to the Peranakan Museum). Failure to attend class activities may result in
, including failing grades.
Please note that attendance is recorded and monitored for each class and class-related activity.
a. Critical Responses: Students must write four (4) critical response papers or reflective essays, which are submitted to the IVLE portal throughout the semester. These critical response papers (
no more than 450 words each
) are concise reflections on class materials for the week; they are not merely summaries but offer analysis and points of discussion. Note that students have a choice about which weeks to submit their essays.
Critical responses must be submitted on IVLE in the appropriate weekly folder
the day before
your section meets
(e.g., if your class meets on Thursday, then submit your response paper by 12pm on Wednesday).
b. Research Paper: In addition to the critical responses, students will be evaluated on a research paper (~1000 words that excludes bibliography, double spaced, 12 point font for each paper). Students will generate a research question and topic that reflects a gap in understanding or empirical puzzle that broadly relates to identities in Asia. Students may use any citation format in their papers as long as the instructor is clearly able to identify the sources used. Papers will be evaluated based on clarity, prose, creativity, organisation, and persuasiveness.
Research papers are due on Tuesday, 16 April 2019 (week 13) during the joint class period. Please note that late papers may incur
for each day they are late.
Importantly, students will submit their research papers to the student submission folder on IVLE, checking plagiarism with Turnitin.com software.
Lastly, students are required to form groups (around 2-3 persons per group) and lead discussion for one of the week’s readings. Each group presentation should be about 30-40 minutes in length. Students should
not offer summaries
, but rather they should provide critical assessments of the materials. Also, students are expected to pose questions and engage with their peers, getting the class to challenge assumptions and conventional wisdom about identities in Asia. Students are allowed to use slides and videos to generate discussion, but they are not necessarily required.
Grades will be determined as follows:
Class participation 20 percent
Presentation 20 percent
Research paper 40 percent
Critical Responses 20 percent (5 percent each)
In the case of borderline grades, I will make a particular point to reward students who have actively participated. I also look favorably on students who steadily improve during the seminar.
General Remarks and Helpful Information:
1. Academic Honesty and Plagiarism
Throughout the semester, students are required to write papers. These exercises are designed to allow students to develop their own arguments. Students should never incorporate ideas and materials without properly acknowledging their source.
NUS policies state: “Academic honesty is a prerequisite condition in the pursuit and acquisition of knowledge…There are many forms of academic dishonesty and plagiarism is one of them. Plagiarism is presenting some other person’s work as one’s own.”
Most materials are found on IVLE or online. Other readings are available in the Central Library.
At times, I will also show films or refer students to websites for additional information. This class involves field trips and guest speakers as well. Please note that the instructor reserves the right to revise or make substitutions in the readings, as appropriate.
Workload Components : A-B-C-D-E
A: no. of lecture hours per week
B: no. of tutorial hours per week
C: no. of lab hours per week
D: no. of hours for projects, assignments, fieldwork etc per week
E: no. of hours for preparatory work by a student per week