AU: 4.0
Programme: HIST(HSS)

This course examines major themes pertaining to the study of political authority and moral legitimacy of power in Southeast Asia from ancient times to the present day. The characterization of the ?Big Man? captures the essential ideas pertaining to the figure of political and moral authority in the region; the ?Big Man? is not only an ascribed status, but an achieved one as well. The course gives students the historical context within which modern political figures of authority place themselves. Through the examination of early political institutions and models, the course allows students opportunities to examine in detail the original concepts behind models of moral authority and leadership. Some political leaders of today continue to allude to these earlier models to legitimize their rights to rule, namely among the military regimes of Burma, the royal family and political regime of Thailand, etc. However an examination of the weekly themes will show that even though legitimacy remains an important consideration, the structure of moral authority within the political institutions of Southeast Asia has been greatly transformed over the centuries. The advent of colonialism clearly has a major impact on political institutions and structures in colonized states, but also in Thailand, where the Thai monarchy carried out programs of centralization, ?modernization?, and ?reforms? to keep the colonialists at bay. What occurred in Thailand was not colonialism from outside, but from within. This course examines some of the major and still influential theoretical models of statecraft, kingship, and political institutions in Southeast Asia from the premodern through modern eras. The breakdown of topics ensures that a wide variety of topics are examined and ample case studies provided, both for the precolonial, colonial, and postcolonial periods.