Spring 2024 - GA 210 D100

How Asia Became Global: Empire, Migration, and Globalization in the Making of Modern Asia (3)

Class Number: 4745

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Jan 8 – Apr 12, 2024: Thu, 2:30–5:20 p.m.

  • Prerequisites:

    15 units.



An interdisciplinary course that examines how empire, migration, and globalization have transformed Asia through connecting Asian people and places with each other and the world. Explores such interactions as part of histories of nationalism, trade, communalism, revolution, war, and authoritarianism in Asia; and as incubators of cultural exchange and experimentation.


In this course, we will explore how empire, migration, and globalization have transformed Asia by studying about how societies and people responded to the major changes that took place in (mainly) the 1900s and 2000s. We will look at the diaries and records of fascinating individuals including royalty, pirates and just people who had a serious case of wanderlust - alongside the backdrop of the world they were travelling in. Rather than attempt a comprehensive account (which would be impossible!), we will think through the many dimensions and complex implications of these histories by delving into case studies from across the continent.

The course is divided into 4 modules. The first will look at the history of the Indian Ocean focusing on a few case studies that will examine slave traders, pirates and diasporas that show us that the Indian Ocean World was global. Against this background the second module will look at how ideas travelled and were adapted across this global and rapidly expanding space of connections. We will focus on three transformative (and overlapping) historical events and how they impacted Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Japanese, and Vietnamese movements and ideas. The first is the development of modern industry and the railways, the second is the First World War and the third is resistance to colonialism. The third module will look at the development of individual nation states, drawing attention to the many different aspirations that existed in this time and how they had to compete to be part of the new laws being forged. We will focus on the formation of competing borders that divided people based on which side of the border they were on. Finally, we will consider Chinese development projects and partnerships across Asia and Africa in relation to ongoing histories of interaction, imperialism, and Cold War geopolitics, as continuation and response. Throughout the course, students will gain practice working with scholarship and creative works about and from Asia.    

Every week you will receive a short (between 15-20 minute) video. The 20-minute video will contain some historical background on the main reading you are expected to do as well as reading prompts to guide your reading. The reading itself should then take you under an hour to complete.


  • discuss key developments across modern Asia from a border-crossing, global, and interdisciplinary perspective;
  • use key theoretical concepts in Global Asian Studies to trace the globalizing processes that connected Asian places, people, and societies with each other; and the world, such as imperialism, modernity, cosmopolitanism, and capitalism
  • critically evaluate differing accounts of contentious issues and events with curiosity, empathy, and self-awareness;
  • and work closely with scholarship to write clear, well-argued expository essays about complex human phenomena


  • Participation (with asynchronous option) 15%
  • Reading review (2) 30%
  • In-person viva 15%
  • Research Essay 30%
  • Vlog of the process of doing your research for the essay 10%


*all assignment sheets and grading rubrics can be viewed on canvas once the course is published.



There is no textbook for this course. All readings will be circulated on canvas.


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