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Archaeological Theory (BA3)


Admission requirements

  • Bachelor Archaeology first year obtained;

  • 30 ec from the remaining BA Archaeology programme obtained.


Archaeology and anthropology are closely tied disciplines, and these links take on different forms around the world.
This course explores anthropological archaeology, with an emphasis on how both disciplines developed in North American and South American scholarly debate during the last hundred years or so.

The impact of North American academic thinking is particularly relevant for archaeological theory, as significant strands of theorising in, for example, the United Kingdom directly connect with work across the Americas.
South American and Caribbean thinkers and theorists have likewise contributed to the debate, although only recently having been taken up as part of the mainstream ‘global’ canon of both disciplines.

To explore these phenomena, we shall tackle a range of questions, including:
Why is the relationship between anthropology and archaeology different in North America and Europe? How does South American anthropology relate to archaeology? Can we discern specific archaeological schools of thought that interlink anthropological ideas on human societies? Does anthropology merely lend ideas and concepts to archaeology, or is the reverse also happening? In Leiden, anthropology and archaeology are not closely tied through teaching; why is that the case?

This course will also highlight the shared history of becoming for both disciplines; a history that is at times troubling and the repercussions of which are being addressed in the current period.
Examples will be sketched that are largely coming from the Americas, but there are clear extensions possible to many other parts of the world where academic interest in the human past and present was triggered by European colonial expansion.
In this sense, we will welcome students’ input with case studies from their own geographical areas of interest/fieldwork experiences. Today, archaeology is perhaps more mindful of the contemporary, and this has allowed to, once more, bring it closer to the anthropological study of the human present as well.

Course set-up

The course consists of seven two-hour meetings, plus a final written exam. The setup of classes is interactive, inviting class discussions and debate.

Course objectives

Ability to:

  • Make explicit and critically reflect on your own theoretical presuppositions;

  • Identify and explain the historical ways in which anthropological and archaeological theory have come together and/or drifted apart;

  • Identify and explain the main developments and trends in archaeological theory, as discussed in this class, on various levels of abstraction;

  • Understand and summarise texts written by influential archaeological and anthropological thinkers;

  • Appreciate and criticise the current relevance of these texts and the theoretical trends they belong to, both in spoken word (debate) and written word (essay);

  • Apply relevant theoretical perspectives to your own research and write a scholarly essay on your topic.

Skills that will be expanded:

  • Verbal communcation;

  • Written communication;

  • Societal awareness;

  • Self-reflection;

  • Independent learning


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

Lectures with considerable interaction.

Assessment method

  • Written exam with essay questions.

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

Reading for lectures by dr. Françozo:

Reading for lectures by dr. Geurds:

  • Binford, L.R. 1962. "Archaeology as Anthropology", in: American Antiquity 28:217–225 (8 pages);

  • Flannery, K.V. 1967. "Culture History vs. Culture Process: A Debate in American Archaeology", in: Scientific American 217: 119–122 (3 pages);

  • González-Ruibal, A., P.A. González & F. Criado-Boado. 2018. "Against Reactionary Populism: Towards New Public Archaeology", in: Antiquity 92: 507–515 (8 pages);

  • Gosden, C. 2012. "Post-Colonial Archaeology", in: Archaeological Theory Today, edited by I. Hodder, pp. 251-267. Polity Press, Cambridge (16 pages);

  • Hodder, I. 1991. "Interpretive Archaeology and its Role", in: American Antiquity 56(1): 7–18. (11 pages);

  • Nilsson Stutz, L. 2018. "A Future for Archaeology: In Defense of an Intellectually Engaged, Collaborative and Confident Archaeology", in: Norwegian Archaeological Review 51(1):48-56. (8 pages);

  • Robb, J. 2010. "Beyond Agency", in: World Archaeology 42(2) 493-520 (27 pages);

  • Preucel, R.W. 1995. "The Postprocessual Condition", in: Journal of Archaeological Research 3(2): 147–175. (19 pages).


For lectures, tutorials, and exams, enrolment through MyStudymap is mandatory.
You are also required to confirm your exam in MyStudymap. No confirmation = no participation!

General information about registration can be found on the Course and Exam Enrolment page.

Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Study Abroad/Exchange website for information on how to apply.


For more information about his course, please contact dr. M. (Mariana) Françozo or dr. A. (Alex) Geurds.


Compulsory attendance.