Fall 2023 - GA 400 D100

Selected Topics in Global Asia (3)

Asian Borderlands

Class Number: 3569

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Sep 6 – Dec 5, 2023: Wed, 9:30 a.m.–12:20 p.m.

  • Instructor:

    Parboti Roy
    Office: AQ6017
    Office Hours: TBD
  • Instructor:

    Parboti Roy
  • Prerequisites:

    45 units.



Content will vary according to interests of faculty and students but will involve Global-Asia-related study within one or more of the social science or humanities disciplines. This course may be repeated for credit only when a different topic is taught.


Asian Borderlands

I acknowledge that I learn and teach on the unceded traditional territories of the Coast Salish peoples, including the səl̓ilw̓ətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh), kʷikʷəƛ̓əm (Kwikwetlem), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish) and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) Nations, on which SFU Burnaby is located.

Course Description: With nation-states being the fundamental building blocks of the global system, what happens at the margins of these entities, geographically, politically and symbolically? This course applies an interdisciplinary approach to examine the fault lines where the concepts of the nation-states breakdown. “Borderlands Asia” thus focuses not on the centres of power, but the places that are on the periphery, disputed, and neglected. We will explore what it might be like to live in such contested areas of Asia, by examining how the discourse is historically understood, shaped and reshaped by different political and socio-economic actors and factors affecting the diverse borderland populations, as well as the flora and fauna. We will interrogate how Asian borderland regions are studied, explicitly focusing on identity and belonging, contested spaces, Indigeneity and tension over territoriality and land, colonial aftermaths, citizenship, nationalism, state and state resistance, development, migration, and the policies impacting the borderland communities. 

We will engage in critical theoretical and scholarly conversations with texts, films, documentaries and other related audio-visual materials/formats to dive deep into borderland communities’ day-to-day navigational strategies despite hegemonic, discriminatory and repressive dominant policies related to borderlands in Asia. Students are expected to take an active role in participating in, engaging with, and co-creating the learning environment. The course materials will draw on some core texts regarding Asia borderlands as well as current events and news. The course syllabus is a living document and students in consultation with the Course Instructor are welcome to suggest relevant readings, texts and audio-visual materials.


Course Objectives: By the end of the course, the students will be able to

  1. Demonstrate an understanding of the key borderland issues in Asia. 
  2. Develop critical analyses of issues  and factors impacting borderland communities and the non-human entities and theoretical perspectives applied to study Asian borderlands. 
  3. Enhance communication skills through class presentations, leading discussions and applying critical academic writing skills.

This course also aims to:

  • Create a supportive, inclusive, and collaborative learning space.


  • Class Attendance and Participation 20%
  • Journal Entries (2 entries, 500-700 words) 20%
  • Presentation and Discussion Facilitation 25%
  • Final Research Paper (10-2 pages excliuding bibliographies, Font12) 35%



Core Course Texts:

  1. Ven Schendel, W., May, W., & Dewan, AK., (2000)The Chittagong Hill Tracts: Living in a Borderland. White Lotus.
  2. Kikon, D. (2019). Living with Oil and Coal: Resource Politics and Militarization in Northeast India. University of Washington Press.
  3. Shneiderman, S. (2015). Rituals of Ethnicity: Thangmi identities between Nepal and India. University of Pennsylvania Press.

*All course readings, texts and media materials will be available on Course CANVAS page.


Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at: shop.sfu.ca/course-materials/my-personalized-course-materials.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating. Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the university community. Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the university. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the university. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Students with a faith background who may need accommodations during the semester are encouraged to assess their needs as soon as possible and review the Multifaith religious accommodations website. The page outlines ways they begin working toward an accommodation and ensure solutions can be reached in a timely fashion.