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States and Citizens


Admission Requirements

This course is open to students registered in the CADS bachelor’s specialisation SuSo.

Please note: Students that are registered in the CADS bachelor's specialisation DAE may only take this course (as an elective or extracurricular course) once they have successfully completed the two Key Issues courses specific to their own specialisation.

N.B. Completing this course may be required to register for the third-year course Selected Bibliography and Bachelor Thesis.

Course Description

States shape the lives of people across the globe, and people become citizens, or non-citizens, in relation to those states. States play a crucial role in the allocation of political and social rights, and in the governance of populations. At the same time, how people shape their citizenship may differ significantly from the forms of political membership outlined by laws and policies.

This course, starts with the question, what is “the state”? How are state authority and governance shaped in relation to other powerful actors and institutions, whether local community leaders or international organizations? How do states relate to the various people in their territorial remit, and how, in turn, do people relate to them? What types of legal, political and social-cultural belonging are organized through official versions of citizenship, and what forms of belonging and mobilization exceed and contest such citizenship?

In this course, we discuss what anthropologists have to say about the state and citizenship, and how they go about studying those ubiquitous yet abstract concepts. After examining approaches to states and citizens in anthropology, we explore various key dimensions and concepts of statehood and citizenship through a combination of theoretical texts and case studies. These include discussions of Foucault’s notions of biopower and governmentality, bureaucracy, sovereignty, coloniality, borders and neoliberalism, as well as various forms of citizenship, including ones beyond and against the state. Students are challenged to think and work with these concepts in relation to their own lives and current affairs, and apply them in various assignments.

Course Objectives

The course will help you to:

  • Understand core discussions in the anthropology of the state and of citizenship;

  • Know how to study the state and citizenship in an anthropological fashion;

  • Learn how to connect theoretical debates and case studies on states and citizens to concrete cases;

  • Advance your academic skills through written assignments, presentations, peer feedback and active participation online and during the sessions.


For dates, see our website

Mode of Instruction

Total 10 ECTS = 280 study hours (sbu):

  • Lectures/seminars 16×2 = 32 × 1,5 = 48 sbu

  • Study of literature and AQCI’s (+/- 800 pp) = 180 sbu

  • 2 individual assignments = 24 sbu

  • 1 group presentation = 8 sbu

  • Two take home exams (including preparation) = 20 sbu

Assessment Method

The assessment of the course includes two AQCI’s, two individual assignments, a group presentation and two take home exams.

  • 2 AQCI’s – assessed with peer feedback and pass or fail

  • 2 written assignments, including peer feedback (20% of the final grade)

  • 1 group presentation (10% of the final grade)

  • Mid-term take home exam (20% of the final grade)

  • 1 take home exam (50% of the final grade)

Class attendance is mandatory, and active participation is welcomed. The sessions will consist of interactive lectures and group presentations. This is a reading-intensive course. In preparation for the weekly lectures, students are expected to read the assigned literature and are invited to post comments and questions online.

A re-take of the take home exams or the submission of a revised assignment is possible, but only if the final grade is below 6.0, and if the student has participated actively in the course and submitted satisfactory responses to at least most of the assignments.

Registration in My Studymap

Registration for the lectures in My Studymap is mandatory for all students. Registration closes 5 days before the start of the course. Carefully read all information about the procedures and deadlines for registering for courses and exams.

Confirming your exams

Students need not register for the examination via My Studymap, since the exam will be conducted through Brightspace.


Brightspace is the digital learning environment of Leiden University. Brightspace gives access to course announcements and electronic study material. Assignments will also be submitted in Brightspace. Announcements about (changes to) the course are made in Brightspace. Students are advised to check Brightspace daily to remain informed about rooms, schedules, deadlines, and details of assignments. Lecturers assume that all students read information posted on Brightspace.

-How to login

The homepage for Brightspace is: Brightspace

Please log in with your ULCN-account and personal password. On the left you will see an overview of My Courses.

For access to your courses in Brightspace you need to be registered in My Studymap for these courses.

Course Literature

The course syllabus and final reading list will be available on Brightspace at the end of August 2023.


Dr. S. Naafs