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Social Movements


Admission requirements

Only the following categories of students can register for this course:

  • Students enrolled for the BA programme “Culturele antropologie en ontwikkelingssociologie” at Leiden University who have passed the Propedeuse

  • Exchange and Study Abroad students

Please see the registration procedure below.


Social movements and collective action have emerged in close connection with the development of structural inequalities, marginalization and exclusion on the one hand and the ideas of rights, social justice and entitlements, on the other. Different groups and organizations have built platforms of solidarity and mobilization to make claims and express their grievances targeting either the state or capital or international institutions. If in the past social movements or collective action have emerged and concentrated protest within nation-states or colonial states, with the increasing interconnectedness of different locations and social spaces, hierarchically or vertically, currently social movements have attained global dimensions. The course will explore these topics through historical and contemporary examples including the civil rights movement in the US, 1960s movements, movements against multilateral organizations and neoliberal globalization, the Arab Spring, the 15 May movement and Occupy.

Course objectives

This course will prepare students to examine and discuss social movements as part of global processes but also as being locally embedded. It will look at how local action is ‘externalized’ to become part of global action; and how global social movements are internalized; and how meanings change as politics of contention experience shifts in scale. By concentrating on specific cases students will learn to analyze the interconnection between cultural, political and social dimensions of social movements. The course also provides grounding in the key theoretical debates generated within different disciplines in the social sciences and the contribution of anthropology to these debates.


  • Meetings: Tuesdays 11 September to 6 November, 10-13 h
    Location: Pieter de la Court Building, Wassenaarseweg 52, Leiden
    Room 1A22 on 11 and 18 September
    Room SA41 on 25-September and 9 October
    Room 1A41 on 2 and 16 October and 13 November
    Room 1A27 on 23 and 30 October and 6 November

  • Bi-weekly assignments due every other Monday before 9 a.m. by e-mail to

  • A 300 word preliminary topic proposal (including literature references) is due on 22 October together with the assignment for week 7.

  • Final Paper due 23 November 2012, 17.00.

Mode of instruction

Total 10 ECTS = 280 study hours (sbu):

  • lectures (9 ×1h): 14 sbu

  • seminars (9 ×2h): 36 sbu

  • literature (~750 pages): 126 sbu

  • 4 bi-weekly assignments: 24 sbu

  • Final paper on topic of student’s choice (3.500 words): 80 sbu

Assessment method

Four bi-weekly assignments (60%) and one final paper (40%)


Blackboard module will be active from the 25 August and wil be used for posting the reading list, assignments and other course related information.
Students who have been granted admission must register for this course on Blackboard.

Reading list

Articles, chapters, books and websites posted on blackboard and in the syllabus.

Books (available in the faculty library):

  • Raines, H. (1977) My Soul is Rested: Movement Days in the Deep South Remembered (Penguin).

  • Kurlansky, M. (2005) 1968: The Year That Rocked the World (Random House)

  • Maeckelbergh, M. (2009) The Will of the Many: How the alterglobalization movement is changing the face of democracy (Pluto)

  • Mason, P. (2012) Why it’s Kicking off Everywhere: The New Global Revolutions (Verso).


  • Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply for the exchange programme.
    Only those exchange students whose admission to this particular course has already been approved, need to register for this course in Usis and on Blackboard.

  • BA studenten CA-OS van Universiteit Leiden:
    Inschrijving geschiedt via Usis, alleen voor “hoorcollege HC” en “tentamen TEN”. Bij problemen met Usis-inschrijving, raadpleeg de Usis-helpdesk van de FSW.
    Bij aanhoudende problemen, stuur een mailtje naar met het verzoek om je op de deelnemerslijst van de themamodule te zetten.

Contact information

Dr. Marianne Maeckelbergh: []( ;) room nr. 3A27 (Pieter de la Court Building)
Consulting hours: Tuesdays 13.00-14.00 h