We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Durham University

Postgraduate Module Handbook 2021/2022

Archive Module Description

This page is for the academic year 2021-22. The current handbook year is 2022-23

Department: History

HIST46430: Peasant Rebellions in Monsoon Asia, c.1850-1980

Type Open Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Available in 2021/22


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To introduce students to the history and historiographic controversies over peasant rebellions through a series of case studies drawn from South, Southeast, and East Asia in the colonial and immediate post-colonial periods.


  • The history of Monsoon Asia is punctuated with violent peasant uprisings. These events were often pivotal moments in a country’s political history. They exposed the social tensions and economic vulnerabilities of peasant communities in their day-to-day lives. As such, they have been rich episodes for historians. In the 1970s and 1980s in particular, the study of peasant rebellions in Monsoon Asia was generative of influential social theories of resistance that shaped the discipline more widely—from James Scott’s “Moral Economy” to Ranajit Guha’s “Prose of Counter-Insurgency”. As a result, the study of peasant rebellions was a field animated by some heated debates. Were peasants spurred to rebellion by threats to their subsistence, the desire for economic advancement, or millenarian beliefs? Today the study of peasant rebellions is no longer à la mode. In this module we will return to these earlier debates and studies through the expanded historiographic approaches of critical race theory, gender history, and cultural critique. Together we will explore what new aspects of peasant rebellions we might uncover by re-engaging this old subject with fresh eyes.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • On this module you will develop an advanced knowledge of a range of peasant rebellions in Monsoon Asia, and through this a familiarity with the history of the region as whole. You will also build critical skills in interpreting evidence in recovering marginalized histories and voices. In addition, you will acquire a deep understanding of historiographic debates over the nature of resistance in peasant societies and beyond.
Subject-specific Skills:
Key Skills:

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Student learning is facilitated by a range of teaching methods.
  • Seminars and group discussion require students to reflect on and discuss: their prior knowledge and experience; set reading of secondary and, where appropriate, primary readings; information provided during the session. They provide a forum in which to assess and comment critically on the findings of others, defend their conclusions in a reasoned setting, and advance their knowledge and understanding of a particular peasant rebellion each seminar. Across the seminars, students will be able to reflect on the nature of peasant rebellions through an ongoing conversation about overarching themes.
  • Structured reading requires students to focus on set materials integral to the knowledge and understanding of the module. It specifically enables the acquisition of detailed knowledge and skills which will be discussed in other areas of the teaching and learning experience
  • Assessment is by means of a 5000-word essay which requires the acquisition and application of advanced knowledge and understanding of aspects of the history and historiography of peasant rebellions, and of relevant theoretical and comparative approaches from other disciplines. Essays require a sustained and coherent argument in defence of a hypothesis and must be presented in a clearly written and structured form, and with appropriate apparatus.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Seminars 10 Weekly in Term 2 hour 20
Preparation and reading 280
Total 300

Summative Assessment

Component: Coursework Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 5000 words not including footnotes or bibliography 100%

Formative Assessment:

Formative work done in preparation for and during seminars, including oral and written work as appropriate to the module. [ For modules with exams: The summative coursework will have a formative element by allowing students to develop ideas and arguments for the examination.] Formative: 20 minute oral presentation; 2000-word primary source commentary

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University