Paper Assignment for South and Southeast Asia



 The paper should be about twelve pages on any topic that has come up during the course. The purpose of the assignment, as stated in class, is to let you go into depth of a specific topic or issue of special concern to you, in contrast to the exams, which ask you to address general issues for the region.    It is a good idea to check the topics with me before you start.  I  can probably tell you if the topic is likely to be manageable with the time and resources available, and probably will also be able to suggest some relevant readings to get you started.  If you would like to submit an outline or draft before the due date for me to respond to, I will be happy to provide feedback.  I will not comment on a possible grade.

 Papers will be due on a day we agree to in class, usually the normal final exam date, at my office (GR 3.128).  If I am not there, slip it under my door.  Email me a digital copy as an attachment.  If you cannot get to campus to deliver the paper copy, tell me in the email and I will print it.  Printing it is not a problem for me (and no penalty for you).  I just prefer to have you print it so you can be sure that you have seen the final formatting and that it is what you want.

All material you include from anyone else should in quotes, properly referenced, and explained. "Explained" means that you should describe who it comes from, why you think they are good sources, and what you (personally) take the quoted material as meaning.  I always want to know what you think, in contrast to anyone else. Include a bibliography.  Also, do not just quote conclusions--the author's evidence and reasoning is at least as important. 

I know it can be annoying to include careful references; it seems to slow you down without adding much.  But this is exactly what ties your ideas to the ideas of others in the field and marks you a part of the scholarly community. Any standard style will do.  My personal preference is for MLA style, which is also American Anthropological Associationstyle, American Psychological association, and many others. Basically, use parenthetical references in the text, such as (Leaf 2009; 12), and put the source in a single bibliography at the end.

Murray J Leaf


These are actual past papers and my reactions to them.


Religion in Indonesia’s Govt. Essentially, why and how they are secular although the population is mostly Muslim.  Good topic and the paper was well written and informative.


Sanitation-the paper opposed surface disposal of human feces.  This is actually a major topic for some development people right now, but they see only the dangers and not the benefits. They also do not see the difficulties and dangers in the alternative.  This paper followed the general trend, and was not well thought out or well documented. For example, the problem is very different in Bangladesh, where there are floods every year, in contrast to Rajasthan where floods are rare. 


Corruption in India. Fine topic but requires precise thinking.   There are many kinds. Sources seemed ok but were not discussed. The paper needed to consider regulations—it considered only political corruption in a vague and general way.


Is political autonomy a sustainable solution to ethnic conflict: Aceh in Indonesia and the Moros in the Philippines? This is a very good topic and the paper had a good description of issues and agreements. Answer was that it seems to be working in these cases for now.


Doi Moi (socialist market reforms in Viet Nam). The paper included a good comparison to Russia and China and related doi moi to Viet Nam’s foreign policy. Very good paper.


“Education Changed Asia.” It was a good topic, but the paper only used the course texts, which did not have enough information on the topic.


Political Economy of Laos.  This is a nice, straightforward topic, in part because Laos is small.  I
The paper provided a good overview, piece by piece. Also very good.


British legacy in Malaysia and Singapore. This is a very good topic and the student’s treatment was very perceptive. The paper included good comparisons with the histories of other countries in the region that went differently.


Destroying the eye of the tiger: Defeat of the LTTE. This is a good topic but the description needs to be related to some broader issues.  In this case, the paper concluded that it was done by means of ruthless force. There was no assessment of alternatives or causes and no comparison with other cases.  Accordingly, it did not say much of general value.


Gandhi and Aung San Suu Kyi. This was a Great idea. In this case, the comparison avoided legal/religious/politic philosophies. Stayed with what political outcomes they advocated. I though more about their philosophical assumptions would have made it better.


Myanmar. In this case the paper was almost all based on Sar Desai, although a few other sources were mentioned. Good account as far as it went, but in leaving out ethnic conflicts it would not allow anyone to look very far ahead.


Hydropower in Nepal. This is good topic and the paper seemed to have good sources, but it was  very badly organized and written.


Australia’s support for Indonesia’ initial incorporation of E Timor. The paper focused on Australia’s motives.  Good solid paper.


LTTE and Tamil Diaspora.  This is a very interesting topic, since diasporas have been important in supporting many insurrections or guerrilla movements in South and Southeast Asia.  The write found and used some good articles. But the paper was written as though the LTTE controlled all overseas (from Sri Lanka) Tamils, and this is not true. So the paper was ok but not good.


Sex Trafficking in Southeast Asia. Ok topic but not great, in part because it is hard to get reliable information on who is doing it willingly, and why.


Food production and agricultural development in South Asia.  Excellent topic and there are good sources available.


India and the Maoist insurgency in Nepal.  Good topic—many possible aspects or variations.


Other possible topics that information would be available on:


Growing importance in the region of cooperation between Australia and Indonesia.


Indira Gandhi’s effort to turn India into a unitary state and how it failed.


The influence of the military in Pakistan government (there is a very good book to focus on, called Military Inc. , by Aisha Sidiqqa.


Land reform.  A good book comparing Indian Punjab and Pakistan Punjab is by Holly Simms.


Pakistan’s foreign policy.


India’s foreign policy, including non-alignment.


The influence of foreign aid on development.  Here one good focus is the fact that while Pakistan has received far more aid than India, India has done better.  Why?


The influence of Saudi Arabia on Islam in South and Southeast Asia.


The different views of Islamic law in different states with large Muslim populations.


Any traditional system of agriculture.


Important Anthropological studies that give a good sense of local culture:


Buddhism Betrayed?: Religion, Politics, and Violence in Sri LankaJul 15, 1992

by Stanley Jeyaraja Tambiah


Sri Lanka: Ethnic Fratricide and the Dismantling of DemocracyDec 31, 1986

by Stanley Jeyaraja Tambiah


Political Systems of Highland Burma: A Study of Kachin Social Structure (Monographs on Social Anthropology / London...Dec 1954

by Edmund Ronald Leach


Pul Eliya: A Village in CeylonApr 28, 2011

by E. R. Leach


Land Tenure in Village Ceylon: A Sociological and Historical Study (Cambridge South Asian Studies)Feb 4, 2008

by Gananath Obeyesekere


The Wet and the Dry: Irrigation and Agricultural Intensification in Polynesia Hardcover use pre formatted date that complies with legal requirement from media matrix – January 1, 1995 by Patrick Vinton Kirch (Author)




Lee Kuan Yew: The Grand Master's Insights on China, the United States, and the World (Belfer Center Studies in...Feb 1, 2013

by Graham Allison and Robert D. Blackwill


Malaya: The Communist Insurrection, 1948-1953 (British Documents on the End of Empire Series, Part 2) (Pt. 2)Sep 1995

by A. J. Stockwell


Democracy and Cultural Diversity (Hansard Society Series in Politics and Government)Sep 14, 2000

by Michael O'Neill and Dennis Austin