Asian history at UNC–Chapel Hill has flourished and grown considerably in recent years. Its diverse faculty offers a wide range of courses that, despite their varying temporal and spatial focuses, are all designed to equip students with a critical spirit of enquiry and understanding with regard to a region of the world where over half of humanity now resides. The research and teaching interests of the Asian history faculty include the region’s pre-modern histories; its transformation in more recent times; business and economic developments; social and cultural formations; gender relations; experience with colonialism and nationalism; and relations with the United States and other parts of the world. Students can choose courses that range from introductions to specific sub-units within the region (South Asia, China, and Japan) to more advanced courses with thematic focuses (colonialism, gender, historical memory, the Pacific War). The more advanced courses often expose students to a comparative and transnational approach which is one of the distinctive features and strengths of the Asian history program.
Faculty and students in Asian history work closely with many other departments and centers of the University. They include the Department of Asian Studies, which offers language training in Asian languages as well as courses in Asian literature and cultures. The program also contributes to and cooperates with the work of the recently established Carolina Asia Center, which promotes and coordinates interdisciplinary teaching and research on Asia.
Courses in Asian history count towards the major concentration in Third World/Non-Western. This concentration focuses on the countries and regions of the non-Western world, including Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Russia. While courses in this field emphasize the unique histories of these regions, they place them into a wider global context.
Students may pursue graduate study in Asian history in two different ways. Because the History faculty voted in the spring 2007 to approve a doctoral field in Asian history, students may now select Asian history as a primary field at the master’s degree level and the Ph.D. level. Students in the master’s degree and doctoral degree programs may also focus on Asian history from a transnational perspective through the Global History Program. Students who are interested in the Global History Program should consult the description of that program.
Students in the doctoral program in Asian history must select four fields for comprehensive examinations: a primary field focusing on Asia, a second field that ordinarily will focus on Asia but will be distinct from the primary field, a thematic field that will include substantial readings pertaining to Asia, and a field outside of Asia. For information on the Asian field graduate comprehensive exams, consult the Graduate Student Handbook.