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Amerindian Societies: Past and present


Compulsory attendance


Prerequisites and restrictions

Bachelor’s degree obtained.


Throughout the Americas, indigenous peoples are actively involved in negotiating their ethnic identities. The processes of defining and redefining these identities take place against national backdrops of individual Latin American countries, and these settings co-determine the specific emphases placed in these processes. These cultural movements are often perceived in the national contexts and on the international forum as ranging from ‘political movements’ and ‘indigenous activism’ to ‘militant or even terrorist groupings’. This spectrum in opinions underscores the active debate in which many contemporary Amerindian societies are currently being situated or situating themselves. Representation and self-representation will be recurring themes in this course, which will emphasise the increasing role that Amerindian societies claim in their respective Latin American nations. In particular, attention will be given to the position research and researchers play in this forum. What is the current state in which the people you will be dealing with in the development of your research? How is this reported upon by international, national, regional and local sources?
This course provides an overview of contemporary social, cultural, political and developmental issues of the native peoples of the Americas. Students will focus on the situation of the area they are studying for their thesis, carry out research (library, Internet etc). and write a paper with an in-depth analysis.

Learning outcomes

  • Ability to create an overview of Amerindian movements currently present in Latin America;

  • Insight in the overarching backgrounds and raison d’être for these movements;

  • Ability to establish socio-cultural positionality of Amerindian societies in Latin American nation-states;

  • Insight into the effect specialised research can have on LA nation-states and amerindian peoples.

Mode of delivery



1) For the regular class: different assignments (newsflashes on international journals and new media; posterpresentation), with active participation in discussion, a newspaper article in reaction upon an existing article ánd a WIKIPEDIA contribution and edit;
2) Optional: the seminar may be expanded with another 5 ects by writing a paper (approx. 3,000 words), containing the analysis of the present-day social reality and worldview of a specific indigenous people in the Americas (preferably in the area of thesis research).

Reading list

Point of departure has to be the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2007) and related international legal instruments (see for example:;;; )
Literature is to be assigned at start of the course and during classes (depending on chosen topics).

Time schedule

Course schedule details can be found in the RMA time schedule.