nl en

Struggles for Decolonisation: Past and Present


Admission requirements

Required course(s):



In this course, we will explore decolonisation as a political process. What happened during decolonisation? Who was involved? Why did the colonised encounter significant challenges? What roles did gender, class, and international connections play? To what extent did they attain their own goals, and what was still left to be decolonised after formal ending of colonialism? In exploring these questions, we will primarily focus on the material struggles of colonised peoples to gain independence as sovereign states during the 20th century. These included conflicts over land exercised through armed struggle as well as non-violent activism. In recognising that decolonisation in all its forms is an ongoing process that is far from over, the course will also introduce students to questions of epistemic decolonisation, that is, decolonisation of our cultures.

The course’s pedagogical approach is strongly shaped by decolonising praxis. Primarily, along with the instructor, it was co-developed by four students (Ghali Bahbouhi, Lena Božić, Céline Kodjo, Chandler Lütteken) and one alumnus (Dewi Laurente), whose interests and collaborative research determined the modes, materials, and structure of the course. The course is therefore founded upon the knowledges of students, which is to be shared with future generations of students. Furthermore, apart from one session on Algeria/Palestine, the course focuses on the more invisibilised struggles of decolonisation, thereby being better able to demonstrate the breadth of creative approaches used by the colonised (to varying degrees of success) to attain independence. Finally, the course includes a variety of learning materials and assignments, aiming to avoid privileging written text and instead harnessing the benefits of epistemic diversity enabled through audio-visual and other modes.

Course Objectives

In successfully completing this course, students will be able to:


  • Analyse historical and contemporary cases of decolonisation movements to understand their actors, conflicting interests, solidarities, modes, and diverse outcomes.

  • Evaluate the aims and outcomes of decolonisation movements, that is the extent to which they succeed and why


  • Collaborate with others in a group while practicing care

  • Create in collaboration with other students educational materials that inform a wider lay audience about complex topics such as decolonisation

  • Reflect on their positionality vis-a-vis historical and ongoing decolonisation, and their subjective experience of learning to identify predispositions and strengthen accountability in knowledge cultivation.


Timetables for courses offered at Leiden University College in 2023-2024 will be published on this page of the e-Prospectus.

Mode of instruction

The course will predominantly consist of in-class discussion of the learning materials, with the aim being to relate them to our life experiences, our existing knowledge of world politics, and to explore the nuances of the struggles. Discussions will be both in small groups and as a larger class. To complement this approach, there will also be guest lectures and workshops.

Assessment Method

Critical reflection x2
Group dialogue with instructor
Individual assignment
Final exhibition (ungraded)

Reading list

The list of readings will be made available upon commencement of the course.


Courses offered at Leiden University College (LUC) are usually only open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Leiden University students who participate in one of the university’s Honours tracks or programmes may register for one LUC course, if availability permits. Registration is coordinated by the Education Coordinator,


Dr. Densua Mumford,