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Empathy & Emotional Labour in increasingly complex localities: Understanding ‘the Other’ through Academic & Artistic Research


Deze informatie is alleen in het Engels beschikbaar.

Topics: Othering, Social and cultural empathy, Discrimination, In and Exclusion
Disciplines: TBA
Skills: Researching, Analysing, Critical thinking, Collaborating, Oral communication, Deep listening, Written communication, Presenting, Societal awareness, Reflecting
Type: Honours Class: This course combines theory and practice to learn how to tackle a complex issue.

Admission requirements

This course is an (extracurricular) Master Honours Class aimed at talented Master’s students. Admission will be based on academic background and motivation. A GPA of 7 is recommended.

Students will have to be able to attend the lectures and workshops in person, there is no option for hybrid participation.

Students have to write a motivation.


This course is organized around the notion of ‘othering’: the stereotyping of groups within society often accompanied by inclusionary and exclusionary practices feeding into the creation of the dichotomy of “us” versus “them”. Processes of polarization, politicization and securitization – both in political and public discourse – play an important role in the process of othering. In this course, attention will be paid both to the ‘everyday othering’ that happens in seemingly mundane daily societal interactions, as well to more systemic conscious and unconscious forms of otherings by state agencies and state agents.

A deep understanding of these – sometimes more or less visible - dynamics and processes of othering is crucial to grasp its implications on individuals, communities and societies. Besides understanding the implications of othering, it is equally important to understand the driving forces behind the process and to really get to the core of the question who and what is driving a certain discourse and perception about an “other” or a group of “others”. What are the so-called deep stories behind the process of othering? It is only through such an understanding that, according to sociologist Hochschild, possible empathy bridges can be created that can help to depolarize and break through the aforementioned dichotomy of “us” versus “them”.

Throughout this 10 week course, students will reflect on these different constructed ‘others’, both through socio-legal research (methods) and artistic research. Artistic research is understood as research in and through art practice. Embedded in artistic and academic contexts, artistic research seeks to convey and communicate content that is enclosed in aesthetic experiences, enacted in creative practices and embodied in artistic outputs. In such an approach, artistic research thus happens in collaboration with scientists and the research process is carried out as a team with the results taking the shape of texts, images, sounds, processes etc. This makes artistic research an open undertaking, seeking deliberate articulation of unfinished thinking and unconscious and uncovered deep stories in and through art.

Course objectives

Upon successful completion of this course, you will:

  • have developed a deep understanding of processes of othering and its implications for individuals, groups and societies through the application and mastery of various theoretical lenses e.g. critical race studies, the sociology of emotions, epistemic justice, critical philosophy, etc;

  • identify and reflect upon processes of othering in political and public discourse, both in written and in visual form;

  • have developed a deep understanding of the notion of empathy and will be able to critically reflect upon its relation to the processes of othering;

  • identify your own (implicit) biases and privileges and reflect on them;

  • prepare and conduct qualitative research aimed at unpacking and understanding ‘deep stories’ behind the process of othering, in particular interviewing, visual mapping and observations, and relate these socio-legal research methods to artistic research methods;

  • describe and reflect upon the way in which socio-legal research methods relate to artistic research methods and art-based thinking;

  • apply techniques from art-based thinking to scientific research problems and research outcomes;

  • present your work for both academic and non – academic audiences.

Programme and timetable

The meetings of this class will take place on Tuesdays 17.30 – 20.00 (in Leiden)
Thursdays 18.00 – 20.00 (The Hague)

Attendance during all sessions is mandatory (lectures & workshops).

The tentative program will look as follows (changes might be made!)

Week 1: Introduction to the field(s)
Tuesday lecture (Leiden), March 12 in Kamerlingh Onnes building, room B0.32
Thursday workshop (The Hague), March 14 in Wijnhaven, room 3.12 A/B

Week 2: Creating ‘the other’ and processes of ‘othering’
Tuesday lecture (Leiden), March 19 Kamerlingh Onnes building, room B0.32
Thursday workshop (The Hague), March 21 in Lipsius building, room 3.07

Week 3: Who are we?
Tuesday lecture (Leiden), March 26 in Kamerlingh Onnes building, room B0.32
Thursday workshop (The Hague), March 28 in Wijnhaven, room 3.12 A/B

Week 4: Empathy and the right to Opacity.
Tuesday lecture (Leiden), April 2 in Kamerlingh Onnes building, room B0.32
Thursday workshop (The Hague), April 4 in Lipsius building, room 3.07

Week 5: Data collection through scientific and artistic methods
Tuesday lecture (Leiden), April 9 in Kamerlingh Onnes building, room B0.32
Thursday workshop (The Hague), April 11 in Wijnhaven, room 3.12 A/B

Week 6: Observing, interacting with and listening to the other
Tuesday lecture (Leiden), April 16 in Kamerlingh Onnes building, room B0.32
Thursday workshop (The Hague), April 18 in Wijnhaven, room 3.12 A/B

Week 7: The Racialized Other
Tuesday lecture (Leiden), April 23 in Kamerlingh Onnes building, room B0.32
Thursday workshop (The Hague), April 25 in Wijnhaven, room 3.12 A/B

Week 8: The Ideological or Extremist Other
Tuesday lecture (Leiden), April 30 in Kamerlingh Onnes building, room B0.32
Thursday workshop (The Hague), May 2 in Wijnhaven, room 3.12 A/B

Week 9: The ‘Other’ body
Tuesday lecture (Leiden), May 7 in Kamerlingh Onnes building, room B0.32
Wednesday workshop (The Hague), May 8 in Wijnhaven, room 3.54

Week 10: Social economic status, ‘class’ and the Other
Tuesday lecture (Leiden), May 14 in Kamerlingh Onnes building, room B0.32
Thursday workshop (The Hague), May 16 in Wijnhaven, room 3.12 A/B

Week 11: The Mythological Other
Tuesday lecture (Leiden), May 21 in Kamerlingh Onnes building, room B0.32
Thursday workshop (The Hague), May 23 in Wijnhaven, room 3.12 A/B

Week 12: Mind the gap? Reflecting on the possibility to create empathy bridges
Tuesday lecture (Leiden), May 28 in Kamerlingh Onnes building, room B0.32

Closing session, including the FINAL PRESENTATION: 6 June from 18 – 22
The Hague, Pianohuis


Tuesdays in Leiden: Kamerlingh Onnes building, room B0.32
Thursdays in The Hague Wijnhaven, room 3.12 A/B

Reading list (excerpt)

  • Alison Kafer, “Introduction: Imagined Futures” in Feminist Queer Crip. Bloomington: Indiana University Press (2013)

  • Mezzenzana, F., & Peluso, D. (2023). Introduction: Conversations on Empathy–Interdisciplinary perspectives on empathy, imagination and othering. In Conversations on Empathy (pp. 1-24). Routledge. (open access publication)

  • Eichbaum, Q., Barbeau-Meunier, C. A., White, M., Ravi, R., Grant, E., Riess, H., & Bleakley, A. (2022). Empathy across cultures–one size does not fit all: from the ego-logical to the eco-logical of relational empathy. Advances in Health Sciences Education, 1-15.

  • Jacobson, D., & Mustafa, N. (2019). Social identity map: A reflexivity tool for practicing explicit positionality in critical qualitative research. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 18, 1609406919870075

  • Fairey, T. (2018). Whose photo? Whose voice? Who listens?‘Giving,’silencing and listening to voice in participatory visual projects. Visual Studies, 33(2), 111-126.

  • Harambam, J., & Aupers, S. (2017). ‘I am not a conspiracy theorist’: Relational identifications in the Dutch conspiracy milieu. Cultural Sociology, 11(1), 113-129

  • McGranahan, Carole. 2018. Ethnography beyond method. The importance of an ethnographic sensibility. SITES. New Series 15 (1):1-10. Doi:

  • Silverstein, P. A. 2005. Immigrant racialization and the new savage slot: race, migration, and immigration in the new Europe. Annual Review Anthropology, 34, 363-384.

  • Édouard Glissant, “For Opacity” in Poetics of Relation. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press (1997)

  • Micki McGee, “Neurodiversity,” Contexts 11, no. 3 (2012)

  • Borgdorff, H., Peters, P., & Pinch, T. (2019). Dialogues between artistic research and science and technology studies: An introduction. In: H. Borgdorff, P. Peters & T. Pinch (eds). Dialogues Between Artistic Research and Science and Technology Studies. New York: Routledge, pp. 1 -15

  • Le Bourdon, M. (2022). Confronting the discomfort: A critical analysis of privilege and positionality in development. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 21, 16094069221081362.

  • Laermans, R. (2021). The Pluralization of Academia: Disentangling Artistic Research. In: D. Houtman, S. Aupers, R. Laermans (eds.) Science under Siege, Cham: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 89-111.

  • Nelson, R. (2013). Practice as research in the arts: Principles, protocols, pedagogies, resistances. London: Springer.

  • Parmar, A. (2019). Policing migration and racial technologies. The British Journal of Criminology, 59(4), pp. 938-957.

  • Phillips, J., Westaby, C., Fowler, A. and Waters, J. (eds) (2020) Emotional Labour in Criminal Justice and Criminology. Abingdon: Routledge, pp. 3-17.

  • Hochschild, A. R. (2018). Strangers in their own land: Anger and mourning on the American right. New York: The New Press.

  • Gair, S. (2012). Feeling their stories: Contemplating empathy, insider/outsider positionings, and enriching qualitative research. Qualitative health research, 22(1), 134-143.

  • Cohen, Jeffrey Jerome. ‘Monster Culture (Seven Theses)’. In Monster Theory: Reading Culture, edited by Jeffrey Jerome Cohen, 3–25. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1996.

  • Strickland, Debra Higgs. ‘Monstrosity and Race in the Late Middle Ages’. In The Ashgate Research Companion to Monsters and the Monstrous, edited by Asa Simon Mittman and Peter Dendle, 365–86. London: Routledge, 2013.

Other possible literature will be announced in class or via Brightspace.

Course load and teaching method

This course is worth 10 ECTS, which means the total course load equals 280 hours.

  • Seminars: 12 seminars of 3.0 hours (participation in person is mandatory)

  • Workshops: 12 workshops of 3.0 hours (participation in person is mandatory)

  • 12 weekly online non-mandatory 2 hour chat sessions

  • Literature reading: 5 hours per week

  • Practical work: 4 hours per week (will differ per week)

  • Assignments & final essay: 80 hours

Assessment methods

The assessment methods will look as follows:

  • Completed project plan (10%)

  • Fieldwork (including digitalization of fieldnotes and interview notes in the field) (25%)

  • Participation (including handing in your weekly assignments and actively participating in and attending class) (20%)

  • Learning & reflection journal (15%)

  • Final assignment (30%)

Students could only pass this course after successful completion of all partial exams.

Brightspace and uSis

Brightspace will be used in this course. Upon admission students will be enrolled in Brightspace by the teaching administration.

Please note: students are not required to register through uSis for the Master Honours Classes. Your registration will be done centrally.

Registration process

Did you miss the application deadline? Please submit your application as soon as possible by filling in this form.

Note: students don’t have to register for the Master Honours Classes in uSis. The registration is done centrally before the start of the class.


Prof. dr. mr. Maartje van der Woude (Van Vollenhoven Institute for Law, Governance & Society – Leiden Law School)