Faculty of Arts

ASIAN 753 A & B

Special Topic: "Transnational North-East Asia: Challenges and Possibilities"


This course aims to critically engage the current debates surrounding the concept and movement of “transnational Asia” (an approach emphasising the intensified exchanges and movements of people, ideas and culture) and the possibility of reconciliation between China, Japan and the two Koreas. In so doing, it examines the historical, cultural and ideological sources and recent development of this new form of regionalism, as well as such challenges as Chinese hegemony and competing nationalisms in the region.

This requires critical engagement with the recent past, including the history of imperialism and colonialism in the region, coming to terms with conflicting war memories and the examination of competing nationalisms throughout the region. In addition, we will also explore the politics of anger and ressentimentso common in in the region.

Where applicable, attention will be given to the role of soft power and non-state actors — NGOs, religious organisations, social media and popular culture — which create new spaces and opportunities for mutual understanding and reconciliation, and contribute to the formation of a sense of Asian community especially among younger generations.

We will also consider the younger generation of China, Japan and Korea and those of diaspora communities as they would be the future players of the region. In particular, diasporic communities are the sites of the construction of hybrid Asian identities that draw on multiple cultural traditions and transcend the current system of nation states and culture. 

Unequivocally, however, “reconciliation” over historical atrocities and wounds is a formidable, if not impossible, task. Our view is that reconciliation is not always possible, and any reconciliatory relationship requires careful “management”.

Our aim is to allow students to learn and think about some of the historical events in the Northeast Asian region that brought serious conflicts and left indelible wounds in the hearts of people; how people remembered and taught them to their descendants; how they have been aggravated by insensitivities or managed by prudent minds; and also those who endeavoured to heal the old wounds and help peoples to imagine and develop a common future.  

Topics covered:

  • East Asia as a shared cultural region
  • Historical and contemporary international relations in Northeast Asia
  • Reasons and conditions of “One Asia” (bringing Asian countries together to contribute to global peace)
  • Wars, colonial legacies and wounds in Northeast Asia
  • Post-war politics of responsibilities, nationalism and politics of anger
  • Human rights and environmental issues in Northeast Asia
  • Korea’s division, war and reconciliation efforts
  • Reconciliatory possibilities and opportunities among China, Japan and Korea
  • Emerging “Asian” identity in diasporic communities
  • Economic, cultural and social integration in Northeast Asia    

To complete this course students must enrol in ASIAN 753 (if single semester) or ASIAN 753 A and B (if full year).

Availability 2020

Semester 2


Lecturer(s) Professor Mark R. Mullins
Dr Changzoo Song


ASIAN 753A: 7.5 points

ASIAN 753B: 7.5 points

ASIAN 753: 15.0 points

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