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Asian Studies concentrators gain an understanding of the diversity of cultures in Asia through multiple disciplinary practices in the humanities, languages, and social sciences. They gain an in-depth understanding of Asia through language study, with opportunities to study in China, Japan, or India, and learn multidisciplinary approaches in courses in at least three disciplines, culminating in the senior project.

About the Major

Learning a major Asian language is part of the curriculum: Proficiency is critical not only for communicating across cultural lines but for gaining a more complete understanding of the region's identity and expression. Balancing liberal arts principles with innovative scholarship, courses stress the importance of Asia's cultural traditions as well as its modern social and political transformations.

I chose Hamilton because I had heard that it has a great emphasis on writing, which I have always been interested in and wanted to improve on. I have always wanted to become a better writer because it will be a crucial skill for any career path I choose to take.

Codi Reynolds — Asian studies and comparative literature major

Hamilton's Asian Studies Program begins with the conviction that a real understanding of this immense human tapestry requires an interdisciplinary approach to the continent's cultures, languages and society. Students draw on the rich diversity of courses offered in a range of departments such as: anthropology, art history, East Asian languages and literatures, environmental studies, government, history and religious studies.

Careers After Hamilton

  • Data Assurance Specialist, Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi
  • Analyst/Linguist, U.S. Department of Defense
  • Vice President, Interaction Designer, Bank of America
  • Assistant Language Teacher, Japan Exchange and Teaching Program
  • Trader, Pacific Asia, Ajc International
  • Curator for SE Asia, The British Museum
  • Assistant Editor, MTV Networks
  • Director East Asia & Pacific, Council for the International Exchange of Scholars
  • Senior Protection Officer, UN High Commissioner for Refugees

Contact Information


Asian Studies Program

198 College Hill Road
Clinton, NY 13323
315-859-4236 315-859-4390 asianstudies@hamilton.edu

Meet Our Faculty

A Sampling of Courses

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Everyday Islam 160F


Introduction to the study of Islam as an everyday lived religion. The course uses interdisciplinary approaches to understanding Muslim beliefs, practices, and institutional practices. Particular focus on questions of revelation, devotion, law, spirituality, and aesthetics. Students develop facility with analyzing Islamic texts and material culture.

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Exploring Cultures in Asia 180S


History of South and East Asian cultures beginning in ancient times, emphasizing both their commonalities and distinctive features in comparative context. Critical examination of structural hierarchies that have shaped Asian societies, focusing on ritual and kingship, the spread and transformation of Buddhism throughout Asia, Islamization of South Asia, gender, and the formation of empire. Students read secondary and primary sources, including selections from epic traditions, ritual and mythic sources, and literary texts. Writing-intensive.

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History of Iran 228S


This course traces the history of Iran from Late Antiquity to the modern period. It looks beyond the geographic territory of the modern nation state of Iran and considers the impact of Persian culture in the Middle East, Central Asia, and South Asia. Topics include the cultural and political legacy of pre-Islamic Iran; the impact of the Arab conquest; the Perso-Islamic cultural synthesis; the rise of Turkic and Mongolian dynasties; the emergence of Shi’ism as a state religion in the early modern period; and social and political roots of the Iranian revolution in the twentieth century.

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Introduction to Digital Ethnography: Virtual Fieldwork, Real Homework 267S


Introduction to the theory and methods of digital ethnography. Students develop projects taking the digital as both object and outcome. Students choose an Asian virtual community for study and present final projects on a digital platform. The course interrogates the anthropological separation of “fieldwork” and “homework” in the digital era and raises questions such as: Are social relations erased, transformed, or newly created when the web becomes our world? Are we putting distance between ourselves and others or getting a little too close? Are we now, also, Others among Others?

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Asian Temples in a Digital World 309S


Examination of Asian religions in ritual, bodily, and spatial contexts. Discussions of textual and visual sources on human ritual interactions with gods; the use and layout of temples and altars, including food offerings, music, dance, representations of deities; and meditation and internal alchemy. Readings in scholarly sources, instruction in digital historical methods of collecting and analyzing materials on the web. Writing assignments include short essays and a final research project of the student’s design to be presented with text and images in digital form. Writing-intensive.

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Art of Devotion: Visual and Material Culture of Islam 329F


What is the relationship between aesthetics, material culture, and religious experience? In this course we explore this question by examining the aesthetic traditions of Islam, focusing on how Muslims have used literature, visual art, musical performance, and architecture as modes of religious expression and creativity. Through studying aesthetics and devotion in the Islamic tradition, we will reflect on questions of cultural appropriation and reuse, politics of representation, and the global circulation of objects, peoples, and capital. Writing-intensive.

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