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Advanced Studies in Peoples, Ideas, And Resources On The Move In The Pre-Colonial And Early Colonial Caribbean and Amazonia


Admission requirements

Admission to the Research Master Archaeology programme.


The overarching goal of this course is to discuss how archaeologists reconstruct pre-colonial and early colonial mobility and exchange of peoples, materials, and ideas in the Americas, and particularly in the Caribbean and Amazonia, contributing to the development of students’ skills and abilities, and adequate management of specialised literature.

The nature and dynamics of past mobility and exchange are among the most significant phenomena studied by archaeologists in the Americas in general, and in the Caribbean and Amazonia in particular.
The overarching premise of this course holds that peoples of the past interrelated to their counterparts not only through direct face-to-face and day-to-day interaction, but also created, maintained and expanded long-distance networks of exchange of materials and ideas.
In return, the very subsistence, worldviews, and identities of the peoples were shaped by these interactions which for millennia involved the indigenous peoples and their material objects and, later, the European and African newcomers.

In this course we aim at identifying the nature, dynamics, and continuities or discontinuities of specific networks of mobility and exchange in the Caribbean and Amazonia from a deep-time perspective. In order to achieve this goal, we operationalise a ‘trans-Columbian’ integrative approach.
Critical and sensitive to socio-cultural changes, this approach allows monitoring long-term societal trajectories while dismantling the concepts of the Historical Divide or Columbian Encounter, approaching non-Western ontologies, and engaging contemporary postcolonial thought.

Substantiating interdisciplinary case studies are drawn from the Caribbean and Amazonian regions.

Course set-up

  • Week 1 – Introduction to the course. Theoretical concepts of Human Mobility and Social Interactions in the Caribbean Islands

  • Week 2 - Resources on the Move: Indigenous Economy and Socio-politics in the Southern Caribbean (AD 1000-1500)

  • Week 3 - Things on the Move 1: Human and Non-human Imagery between the Mainland and the Islands (Valencioid case in the Southern Lesser Antilles)

  • Week 4 - Things on the Move 2: Human and Non-human Imagery between the Mainland and the Islands (Saladoid case in the Lesser Antilles)

  • Week 5 - Ontologies on the Move: Amazonian Shamanism in the Caribbean Islands

  • Week 6 - Exotic Objects on the Move: Pearl and Guanín and early colonial transformations

  • Week 7 - On the Move, a closing lecture and self-reflection. Student presentations, peer reviews and final discussion

Specific weekly readings will be provided on Brightspace in due time. Dates and hours for the delivery of discussion points will be established together with the students.

Course objectives

  • Providing knowledge on the overarching topic of 'mobility & exchange in pre-colonial and post-1492 archaeology' and explaining current debate on related interaction networks in the Americas, focusing on case studies from the Caribbean, and Amazonia;

  • Exercising research skills for in-depth interpretation of archaeological data in terms of socio-political, economic, and ideational interactions between pre-colonial and early colonial communities (Indigenous, African, and European interactions);

  • Crafting abilities to critically assess current research and literature – the student voices their properly argued opinion;

  • Ability to choose a research topic, find relevant literature and orally present the selected topic with audiovisual means, as well as the ability to handle a stimulating discussion afterwards;

  • Capacity to present a theoretical and methodological approach and formulate new avenues for innovative research for the theme selected or relating to the topic of one's own research;

  • Skills to write a research paper drawing from a relatively rich number of bibliographic sources and linking the specific data set to an updated theoretical and methodological approach into a broad interregional context;

  • Ability to lead a discussion after the presentation, stimulating an active exchange and discussion of ideas;

  • Ability to contribute with critical and constructive ideas during the discussions in class, as well as online posts.


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 meetings with presentations by the lecturer and class discussions afterwards (debate about compulsory literature). This, in combination with student presentations, will be enriched by a discussion of current theoretical and methodological topics drawn from recent literature (in part, this will be expressed in weekly posted discussion points on Brightspace, related to the assigned literature).

The multi-focal and multi-vocal course design will result in a more comprehensive overview of the layered concept of mobility and exchange in the Caribbean and Amazonia across 1492.

Course load

  • 7 × 2 hours of lectures (1 ec);

  • 280 pages of literature & weekly assignments (discussion points based on the literature and one self-reflection) (2 ec);

  • Final essay of ca. 3,000 words and in-class presentation (2 ec).

Assessment method

  • Final essay (ca. 3,000 words) (50%);

  • Writing assignments, one self-reflection and discussion points on literature for each week are to be posted on Brightspace (20%);

  • Active participation: seminars in small, specialist groups in which equal and active participation in both preparation and discussion is important (20%);

  • In-class presentation (subject related to the final essay) and peer review (10%).

RMA students are encouraged to situate the content of their presentations and essays into a broader theoretical and methodological context of study for the theme selected.
RMA students will be also acting as moderators/discussants/peer reviewers in weekly discussions.

A retake is only possible for the final essay and only if all requirements, including attendance, have been met.

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.

Reading list

The reading list associated to lecture themes will be posted on Brightspace.
280 pages of compulsory literature will be announced at a later stage as we aim to include the most recent publications as possible.

Before the first class:
Please note there is compulsory reading before the first week and a small assignment you will find on Brightspace a week before the first meeting.

Compulsory reading before the first meeting:

  • Adams, J. 2014. "Embodied Travel in Search of the Caribbean Self in Tropical Places and Spaces", in: Lean, Garth, Russell Staiff, & Emma Waterton, eds. Travel and Imagination. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd, pp. 25-38;

  • Beaudry, M. C., & T. G. Parno, T. (eds). 2013. Archaeologies of Mobility and Movement. Springer Science & Business Media.


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. M.M. (Marlena) Antczak.


Compulsory attendance.