HTOR00017U Imagining Shangri-La

Volume 2016/2017

Curriculum for the BA programme in Asian Studies with specialisations in Indology, Japanese Studies, China Studies, Korean Studies, Southeast Asian Studies and Tibetology, The 2010 Curriculum

Curriculum for the BA programme in Asian Studies with specialisations in Indology, Japanese Studies, China Studies, Korean Studies, Southeast Asian Studies and Tibetology, The 2015 Curriculum

Curriculum for the Elective Studies in Tibetology The 2007 Curriculum

Curriculum for Master´s Programme in Asianstudies The 2008 Curriculum

Curriculum for the BA-programme with main subject in Religious Studies, the 2010 Curriculum

Curriculum for the BA-programme with main subject in Religious Studies, the 2015 Curriculum

Curriculum for the Elective Studies in Religious Studies The 2007 Curriculum

Curriculum for the Elective Studies in Religious Studies the 2015 Curriculum

Curriculum for Master´s Programme in History of Religions The 2008 Curriculum

Curriculum for Master’s Programme in Sociology of Religion The 2008 Curriculum




Since the 1930s when the British author James Hilton wrote the novel Lost Horizon depicting a mystical paradise in the Himalayas, the various utopic ideals represented by the term “Shangri-La” has gripped popular imaginations the world over. This course examines the appearance and usage of the concept of Shangri-La, both within a Tibetan Buddhist perspective but also as this concept has taken shape globally in a multitude of other contexts, including but not limited to popular culture and the marketing of tourism destinations. By taking a closer look at how this concept has taken root and spread, as well as the imaginaries that the term ‘Shangri-La’ invokes, we will analyze the growth and impact that social and cultural imaginaries have had in modern myth-making and utopic visions of past and present. In imagining Shangri-La, the inherent ideas and perspectives relating to this imagined place and the people who possibly inhabit this place are by no means benign. These utopic imaginations have also worked to encapture the people and places of the Himalayas in fantasies and myths sustained by Western ideations of self and other. We will examine the workings of Shangri-La by beginning the course with a short history of the origin of the term Shangri-La and how it became invoked and widespread in Western imaginations in the mid-20th century, providing a background for wider discussions throughout the course. From there we move on to discuss the role of the ‘imagination’ and how social and cultural imaginaries are formed and spread, drawing on philosophical, anthropological and cultural studies literature, for example bringing in theories of modernity, orientalism and myth-making. We will then discuss various forms and cases through which the myth of ‘Shangri-La’ has taken shape and manifested in specific contexts. Students will gain not only a thorough background knowledge about the ideas surrounding ‘Shangri-La’ and the Himalayan and Tibetan Buddhist context through which this concept originally springs, but also the analytical and theoretical skills to analyze the birth, growth and transformation of concepts invoking utopic visions, modern myths and social imaginaries.

The course is offered in English, and students at both the Bachelor and Master’s level are welcome to take the course with Master’s students having a greater reading and work load.  This course is relevant, but not limited to, students following a course of study related to Tibetan, Chinese, South Asian studies, Asian Studies as well as religious studies, cross-cultural studies, minority studies, etc.

Learning Outcome

Asienstudier BA 2015-ordning:
Tibetologi realia 1 med sprog (fagelementkode HTIB00831E)

Asienstudier BA 2010-ordning:
Indologisk realia 1 (fagelementkode HIDB00671E)
Indologisk realia 2 (fagelementkode HIDB00731E)
Indologisk realia 3 (fagelementkode HIDB00761E)
Japansk realia 1 (fagelementkode HJAB00671E)
Japansk realia 2 (fagelementkode HJAB00731E)
Japansk realia 3 (fagelementkode HJAB00761E)
Kinesisk realia 1 (fagelementkode HKIB00731E)
Kinesisk realia 2 (fagelementkode HKIB00761E)
Koreansk realia 1 (fagelementkode HKOB00671E)
Koreansk realia 2 (fagelementkode HKOB00731E)
Koreansk realia 3 (fagelementkode HKOB00761E)
Sydøstasiatisk realia 1 (fagelementkode HIØB00671E/HTHB00671E)
Sydøstasiatisk realia 2 (fagelementkode HIØB00741E/HTHB00741E)
Sydøstasiatisk realia 3 (fagelementkode HIØB00761E/HTHB00761E)
Tibetologisk realia 1 (fagelementkode HTIB00671E)
Tibetologisk realia 2 (fagelementkode HTIB00731E)
Tibetologisk realia 3 (fagelementkode HTIB00761E)

Religionsvidenskab BA 2010:
Valgfrit område (fagelementkode HREB00311E)
Bachelorprojekt (fagelementkode HREB00351E)

Religionsvidenskab BA 2015:
Valgfrit område (fagelementkode HRVB00061E)
Valgfrit område med sprog (fagelementkode HRVB00081E)
Bachelorprojekt (fagelementkode HRVB00091E)

Tibetologi BA tilvalg 2007-ordning:
Tibetologisk Realia A (fagelementkode HTIB10041E)
Tibetologisk Realia B (fagelementkode HTIB10061E)

Religionsvidenskab BA tilvalg 2007-ordning:
Religionsanalytisk emne A (fagelementkode HREB10091E)
Religionsanalytisk emne B (fagelementkode HREB10101E)

Religionsvidenskab BA gymnasierettede tilvalg 2015-ordning:
Valgfrit område med sprog (fagelementkode HRVB10121E)

Asienstudier KA 2008-ordning:
Tværfagligt tema:
Tibetologi (fagelementkode HTIK03021E)
Japanstudier (fagelementkode HJAK03032E)
Indonesisk (fagelementkode HFKK00356E)
Indologi (fagelementkode HIDK03021E)
Kinastudier (fagelementkode HKIK03022E)
Thai (fagelementkode HFKK00372E)

Religionshistorie KA 2008-ordning:
Speciel religionshistorie A (fagelementkode HRHK03661E)
Speciel religionshistorie B (fagelementkode HRHK03671E)

Religionssociologi KA 2008-ordning:
Særligt studeret område: Religion og politik (fagelementkode HRSK03441E)
Særligt studeret område: Regional religionssociologi (fagelementkode HRSK03481E)
Særligt studeret område (fagelementkode HRSK03431E)

Absalon will be used as a communication tool throughout the course.


Active participation and attendance is a requirement for the course, as well as coming prepared to each class by doing the readings beforehand. This is necessary in order to foster an accelerated learning environment throughout the course in which a wide number of skills will be acquired to support students in their future study, research and career prospects. Group presentations and individual written assignments, along with active group participation and dialogue are also part of the course requirements and expectations. We encourage students from a wide variety of backgrounds and study programmes to join the course so that an environment of exchange can be created which welcomes diverse knowledge and experience
For studerende på dette kursus udbydes der også et kursus i Projektstyring og eksamensforberedelse, se her: http:/​/​​course/​htor00027u/​2016-2017
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 56
  • Preparation
  • 356,5
  • Total
  • 412,5
Type of assessment
Criteria for exam assesment