Studying online

There are now 2 possible online modes for units:

Units with modes Online timetabled and Online flexible are available for any student to self-enrol and study online.

Click on an offering mode for more details.

Unit Overview


A central aim of this unit is to investigate how culture serves the political objectives of the state and how resistance to state power is also often derived from culture. Close interaction between the state and sociocultural life has been a fundamental feature of countries in the Asian region since the end of the colonial era and has been seen as crucial to nation building. In recent years most Asian nations have experienced extraordinarily rapid economic change, at times resulting in acute social tensions including huge disparities in income, aggravated rural–urban dichotomies, ethnic conflict, regional separatism, gender inequalities, environmental devastation, and the dislocation and relocation of huge numbers of people.

In the unit students explore the meanings of key concepts such as culture, political culture, society and the state. They explore the role culture plays in holding the societies of Asia together despite the tensions of modernisation and globalisation, and the extent to which culture is/can be guided (or controlled) by the state for this purpose. The unit also examines how state-sponsored cultural forms are resisted and subverted by various groups within society. Special attention is given to Southeast Asia, China and Japan and students are encouraged to explore specific issue(s) within the context of these regions. The unit allows students to explore a range of areas where state power in Asia and the idea of national cohesion via cultural manipulation impact directly on the diverse ethnic populations that make up society in much of Asia. Students are expected to problematise state cultural agendas and demonstrate an understanding of the way in which society resists, even in the face of the staunchest efforts of the state, to control culture.

The academic objectives of the unit are to develop an understanding of the complexities of sociocultural, political, economic transformations and interactions in postcolonial Asia through the lenses of culture/power/resistance. A further academic objective is to have students more fully understand and utilise various social and political theories and ideas related to the study of contemporary society in Asia.

6 points
Not available in 2024UWA (Perth)Face to face
Details for undergraduate courses
  • Level 2 option in the Asian Studies; CHNSI Chinese Studies; CHNSA Chinese Studies; INDNI Indonesian Studies; JPNSI Japanese Studies major sequences
  • Level 2 elective

Students are able to (1) recognise and critically analyse debates and discourses in contemporary Asia around the interactions between society, culture and political states; (2) evaluate societal transformations in contemporary Asia through understanding the complex relationship between culture, power and resistance in modern Asian societies; (3) explain and critique in ethically sensitive ways the important role of culture in holding the societies and nation states of the Asian region together as well as the ways in which culture is often a contested arena between state and societal interests in the modern globalised world; (4) demonstrate an ability to develop original arguments in oral and written forms that engage with the social and political theories and literature used to frame the unit themes around the interactions of society, culture and state; (5) demonstrate an intermediate level capacity to conduct discipline-relative research and to use appropriate academic conventions and source materials; and (6) develop and demonstrate greater cross-cultural awareness through an enhanced understanding of the relationship between the key unit themes of society, culture, state, power and resistance.


Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) assignments; (2) essays; and (3) tutorial participation. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Student may be offered supplementary assessment in this unit if they meet the eligibility criteria.

Unit Coordinator(s)
Caleb Kelso-Marsh
Unit rules
Successful completion of
any level 1
or POLS unit
ASIA2204 Culture, Society and the State in Asia
Contact hours
up to 3 hours per week
  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
  • All students are responsible for identifying when they need assistance to improve their academic learning, research, English language and numeracy skills; seeking out the services and resources available to help them; and applying what they learn. Students are encouraged to register for free online support through GETSmart; to help themselves to the extensive range of resources on UWA's STUDYSmarter website; and to participate in WRITESmart and (ma+hs)Smart drop-ins and workshops.
  • Unit readings, including any essential textbooks, are listed in the unit outline for each unit, one week prior the commencement of study. The unit outline will be available via the LMS and the UWA Handbook one week prior the commencement of study. Reading lists and essential textbooks are subject to change each semester. Information on essential textbooks will also be made available on the Essential Textbooks. This website is updated regularly in the lead up to semester so content may change. It is recommended that students purchase essential textbooks for convenience due to the frequency with which they will be required during the unit. A limited number of textbooks will be made available from the Library in print and will also be made available online wherever possible. Essential textbooks can be purchased from the commercial vendors to secure the best deal. The Student Guild can provide assistance on where to purchase books if required. Books can be purchased second hand at the Guild Secondhand bookshop (second floor, Guild Village), which is located on campus.
  • Contact hours provide an indication of the type and extent of in-class activities this unit may contain. The total amount of student work (including contact hours, assessment time, and self-study) will approximate 150 hours per 6 credit points.