INAF-366 Thailand and Vietnam: Case Studies in Southeast Asia
Fall for 2013-2014
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In Southeast Asia, Thailand and Vietnam are two near-neighbors with striking contrasts. Thailand was the rare country that was never colonized, while France colonized Vietnam as its primary base in Southeast Asia. The Vietnam War was a major feature of US Cold War strategy, during which time Thailand was – and still is - a staunch US ally. Once ruled by a royal Confucian dynasty, Vietnam now adheres to a one-party political system. Thailand is a constitutional monarchy that has struggled to consolidate its democracy. Buddhism in Vietnam is primarily Mahayana, a legacy of the country’s long relationship with China, while Thailand favors Theravada Buddhism, which has stronger ties to India. Much Southeast Asian history and many current issues can be explored through a comparative study of these two countries. This course will use historical and contemporary analysis and literature, as well as films and art to explore some of these differences. No prior knowledge of Asia or Southeast Asia is required.
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