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Advanced Studies on the Human Planet: How Globalisation Shaped the Human World


Admission requirements

  • Bachelor degree in Archaeology or relevant discipline;

  • Admission to the Research Master Archaeology programme.


Globalisation can be defined as “processes by which localities and people become increasingly interconnected and interdependent”. These processes do not result in homogenisation but in a world of disjunctive flows with problems and opportunities that manifest themselves in local forms, with contexts that are anything but local. Globalisation is nothing novel, nor a phenomenon exclusively connected to (European) expansion or modernity, when the world would also become literally global: Globalisation has its history.

Globalising World History is important because it invites us to study human societies as interconnected and influencing each other from their very beginnings. Historicising globalisation will therefore help better understand how and when our planet became systematically connected and how connectivity works as a (historical) process.

Many of today’s problems are about globalisation in the sense that they are about coping with the impact of the ever-widening networks we have become part of.
This course will make the point that such processes are not unique to the modern world, arguing for a much deeper history that is revealed through archaeology in particular. This recognition will enable you to recognise globalising forces and become more capable of dealing with current societal problems and challenges: studying historical trajectories of globalisation will improve your understanding of the complexities of our 21st century world.

In this course, we will continue on from the two earlier courses offered on The Human Planet (dealing with, respectively, How and Why We Began to Shape the Earth System & How Deep History Shaped the Human World) and focus particularly on what is called the rise of complex societies, including the period we call Modernity.
The case material for this course is found in Afro-Eurasia on the one hand, and parts of the American hemisphere on the other.

In doing so, we will discuss historically recognised agentic leaders, most often male humans alas, but also focus specifically on the idea of objects as history-makers. Objects generate practices and the distribution of objects through globalisation processes generates networks of practices.
We will thus combine globalisation with a focus on objects and the possibilities for human action they provide and investigate what World History looks like from that perspective.

Course set-up

The course will consist of 7 meetings. These meetings are part lecture and part debate about compulsory literature. This literature must be studied in advance; the debate in class will be prepared by means of assignments on this literature.

Course objectives

  • Advanced knowledge of and insight into the concept of globalisation;

  • Advanced knowledge of and insight into the debate on historicising globalisation AD, and the ability to formulate a critical opinion on these debates;

  • Advanced understanding of the problems related to the notions of globalisation and historicising globalisation , and the ability to relate this to a multidisciplinary context;

  • Advanced understanding of the relation between the history of globalisation and the complexities of our 21st century world;

  • Advanced ability to summarise and reflect on specialist literature with regard to historical examples of globalisation;

  • Advanced ability to report in written format;

  • Advanced ability to conceive of and write a small essay on the subject, with original creative ideas.


Course schedule details can be found in MyTimetable.
Log in with your ULCN account, and add this course using the 'Add timetable' button.

Mode of instruction

7 interactive lectures and tutorial.
Readings must be studied in advance, discussion in class will be prepared by means of assignments based on the weekly readings.

Course load

  • 7 x 2 hours of lectures (1 ec);

  • 280 pages of literature (2 ec);

  • Short written assignments (1 ec);

  • Final essay of 2,000 words (+/- 10%) (1.5 ec).

Assessment method

  • Short (weekly) written assignments (30%);

  • Final essay (70%);

  • Pro-active participation in discussion.

Prior to class students read the assigned literature and submit discussion points/make the assignment. These must be submitted 2 days before class. In order to pass the course, all written assignments have to be handed in on time. Compensation is possible according to the OER (Onderwijs- en Examenreglement / Course and Examination Regulations).

There is no retake for the written assignments, only for the final essay (with new topic) if the first attempt has been taken seriously. If you fail the retake for the final essay, any passes for the short, written assignments will no longer count (i.e., grades cannot be used the next year).

Assessment deadlines

All assessment deadlines (exams, retakes, paper deadlines etc.) can be found in MyTimetable.
Log in with your ULCN account, and add this course using the 'Add timetable' button. To view the assessment deadline(s), make sure to select the course with a code ending in T and/or R.

Late submission will result in a lowering of the grade (0.5 point per day).

Reading list

  • Appadurai, A. 2010. "How histories make geographies. Circulation and context in a global perspective", in: Transcultural Studies 1. 4–13;

  • Nederveen-Pieterse, J. 2017. "Long histories of globalization", in: T. Hodos et al. (eds.). The Routledge Handbook of Globalisation and Archaeology. London. 935–953;

  • Pitts, M. & M.J. Versluys (eds). 2015. "Globalisation and the Roman world. Perspectives and opportunities", in: eadem, Globalisation and the Roman world. World History, connectivity and material culture. Cambridge. 3–23;

  • Bowersock, G.W. 2013. "A different turning point for mankind?", in: The New York Review of Books 60(8). 56–58;

  • De Callatay, F. 2005. "The Graeco-Roman economy in the super long-run: Lead, copper and shipwrecks", in: Journal of Roman Archaeology 18. 361–372;

  • Van Dommelen, P. 2017. "Classical connections and Mediterranean practices. Exploring connectivity and local interactions", in: T. Hodos et al. (eds.). The Routledge Handbook of Globalisation and Archaeology. London. 618–629;

  • Wittrock, B. 2012. "The Axial Age in global history. Cultural crystallizations and societal transformations", in: R.N. Bellah & H. Joas (eds.). The Axial Age and its consequences. Harvard. 102–123;

  • Latour, B. 1990. "Technology is society made durable", in: The Sociological Review 38. 103– 131;

  • Knappett, C. 2017. "Globalization, connectivities and networks: an archaeological perspective", in: T. Hodos et al. (eds.). The Routledge Handbook of Globalisation and Archaeology. London. 29–41;

  • Pitts, M. & M.J. Versluys. 2021. "Objectscapes: A manifesto for investigating the impacts of object flows on past societies", in: Antiquity. A Review of World Archaeology 370;

  • Rosenswig, Robert M. 2017. "Olmec globalization: A Mesoamerican archipelago of complexity", in: T. Hodos et al. (eds.). The Routledge Handbook of Globalisation and Archaeology. London. 177–193;

  • Joyce, Rosemary & John S. Henderson. 2010. "Being ‘Olmec’ in early Formative period Honduras", in: Ancient Mesoamerica 21: 187–200;

  • Berdan, F.F. 2017. "Conquest worlds. Aztec and Spanish experiences in Mexico, 1428– 1570 CE", in: T. Hodos et al. (eds.). The Routledge Handbook of Globalisation and Archaeology. London. 243–258;

  • Lindstrom, T.C. (2015). "Agency ‘in itself’: A discussion of inanimate, animal and human agency", in: Archaeological Dialogues 22(2): 207–238;

  • Boivin, Nicole, Dorian Q. Fuller, and Alison Crowther. 2012. "Old World globalization and the Columbian exchange: Comparison and contrast", in: World Archaeology 44.3: 452– 469;

  • Keehnen, F.W.M & A.A.A. Mol. 2020. "The roots of the Columbian Exchange: An entanglement and network approach to early Caribbean encounter transactions", in: The Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology. 1–29;

  • Chapter 5 (Globalization 1.0, the Modern World) of Lewis, S.L., Maslin, M.A. 2018. The Human Planet. How We Created the Anthropocene. London. 147–187;

  • Crellin, R.J. & Harris, O.J.T. 2020. "Beyond binaries. Interrogating ancient DNA", in: Archaeological Dialogues 27. 37–56;

  • Boivin, Nicky, et al. 2016. "Ecological consequences of human niche construction: Examining long-term anthropogenic shaping of global species distribution", in: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 113.23: 6388–6396;

  • Elhacham, Emily, et al. 2020. "Global human-made mass exceeds all living biomass", in: Nature 588.7838: 442–444;

  • González-Ruibal, Alfredo 2008. "Time to destroy. An archaeology of supermodernity", in: Current Anthropology 49(2): 247–279.


Registration in uSis is mandatory. You can register for this course until 5 days before the first class.

Registration in uSis automatically leads to enrollment in the corresponding Brightspace module. Therefore you do not need to enroll in Brightspace, but make sure to register for this course in uSis.

You are required to register for all lectures and tutorials well in time. The Administration Office registers all students for their exams, you are not required to do this in uSis.


For more information about this course, please contact dr. A. (Alex) Geurds.


Compulsory attendance.