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History, Theory, Nation: Readings from the South


Admission requirements

  • BA in any field of study

  • No language requirements


Can we conceive a history outside the nation? The complicity between history as a discipline and the nation continues to concern social scientists and historians for history remains the principal way of naturalizing the nation-state.

This seminar offers insights from the global South (South Asia and other locations) to help rethink history’s objects and forms of narration. We will read and discuss the works of modern thinkers on or from the global South who have theorized issues of history, nation and modernity and their relation to the master references of Europe and the West. These scholars, who use a local archive but often draw creatively from other traditions, bring us methodological and theoretical insights into a number of themes such as the relation between myth, the past and history, how different notions of time, space and reason inhabit histories of the South or the need to rethink concepts. We will also reflect on critiques of nationalist histories, histories in the vernacular, alternative histories, narrativisation and the rift between academic and non-academic knowledge.

As this seminar explores writings from the South in the hope of fostering comparative insights, it is open to students in all fields of study.

Course objectives

Participants in this course will acquire the following:

  • An understanding of perspectives from the South on the nation and historiography.

  • An understanding of alternative methods and tools of history-writing and forms of narrativisation as well as the ability to apply them in analysis.

  • Improved research skills, presentation skills, composition skills, and the ability to critically evaluate readings.



Mode of instruction

Research seminar
280 hours, of which 24 hours in class; the remainder to be spent on reading literature and writing a paper.

Assessment method

  • Oral presentation in class (20% of final mark)

  • Research paper (80% of final mark)


Blackboard will be used for course communication, general course proceedings and information on reading material.

Reading list

No single textbook; literature will be specified at a later stage.


Registration through uSis mandatory
Exchange and Study Abroad students, please consult the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply

Contact information

With the lecturer: Prof.dr. N.K. Wickramasinghe