Even after seven decades, Singapore abounds with personal and institutional memories of the Japanese Occupation. The brief occupation of Southeast Asia (1941-45) during WWII was a complex phenomenon involving the complicity of many Asian nationalist leaders. While it did contribute to the unravelling of European colonial rule, it was at a tragic human cost, the ethics and gore of which are still debated both in academia and in popular media. Through scholarly texts, memoirs, fiction film (The Burmese Harp, Bridge on the River Kwai) and archival newsreels, this course will explore those tumultuous years in Burma, Indochina, Malaya, Indonesia, and the Philippines. We will read and discuss books and diaries, watch films, debate historical perspectives, take a field trip to the new exhibition at the Ford Motor factory, and reflect on the lingering aspects of the Occupation.
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