The Chinese University of Hong Kong Department of History Department of History
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Topic Study in Asian History: Trans-Pacific Connections in East Asia



Term 2, 2016-17

Department of History, Chinese University of Hong Kong

Department of American Studies, Brown University (USA)


Lecturer: Prof. Ian Morley, Department of History, CUHK

Course Tutor: Ms Tse Hiu Tung, Christy



Lecture Time: 4.30-6.15 pm, Thursdays

Classroom: Room 302, Lee Shau Kee Building

Tutorial Time: 3.30-4.15 pm, Thursdays of weeks 3, 7, 9, and 12.

Tutorial Room: Room 707, Mong Man Wai Building (January 26, February 23, March 9, April 6)

Class Language: English


Lecturer: Prof. Ian Morley

Room 129, Fung King Hey Building. Telephone: 3943-7116


Tutor: Ms Christy Tse




Course Overview 

HIST4400C, intended for senior level Undergraduate and MA students, offers an examination of the evolution of Philippine society from the onset of Spanish colonization in the mid-1500s to the start of World War Two in Asia (in 1941). Granting an opportunity to grasp the development of the Philippines under Spanish and American colonial rule, the course places attention upon the nation’s capital city, Manila, a place where life has also been historically shaped by Chinese, Japanese, and native cultural influences. Focusing on elements of cultural, political, and urban history the course endeavours to explain how ‘the Philippine nation’ has historically unfolded, and why Manila, today a metropolis with a population in excess of 13 million people, has come to play such a dominant role in determining the nature of Philippine society prior to the country being granted independence in the late-1940s. Enabling students to critically understand the physical as well as cultural character of the city, and so the nation at large, a multidisciplinary approach is fostered so as to encourage learners to recognize and explain factors that have influenced Philippines civilization as it progressed from the “traditional” to the “modern”. Encouraging learners too to identify connections between the country and places elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific region, ultimately the course places the evolution of life in the Philippine Archipelago within the greater Asia-Pacific region. Taught by two professors at Brown University and the Chinese University of Hong Kong the curriculum is cut into two distinct sections: The Philippines pre-1898; The Philippines post-1898. Where possible a comparative analysis with the colonial development of Hong Kong will be provided so as to demonstrate, and explain, the different types and natures of colonial rule, culture, and development that took place in East Asia prior to the end of World War Two.


The course is designed with a number of expected learning outcomes:

  1. The learners to articulate in written form the association, both direct and indirect, between colonial governance and the nature of Philippine society.
  2. Students to convey how contexts both external and internal have shaped the narrative of development in the Philippines.
  3. To recognize the alliance between the evolution of life in a capital city and the nature of society at large.
  4. To train to use primary sources, including maps and other visual sources, in order to come to terms with how the form of urban environments reflect various cultural and political processes operating within Philippine society.
  5. To permit students opportunities to compare the nature and evolution of colonial societies in East Asia, namely to compare and contrast the Philippines with Hong Kong.