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Worldview and ritual 1


Compulsory attendance


Admission requirements

Degree students (including Dutch BA graduates): BA degree (or equivalent) in Archaeology or a relevant discipline.

SAP and Exchange Students: BA degree. Admission only after formal application.


Societies understand and engage with the world in different ways. Many ancient and present cultures shape their interactions with the world through religion and ritual.
This seminar explores recent interpretative approaches to the study of worldviews, religions, and rituals, evaluating current analysis of Mesoamerican visual culture, archaeology, historical sources and documentation of living traditions. The course literature and examples are cross-culturally applicable, and will incorporate theoretical approaches to the concepts of time, space, calendars, ancestor worship, the Other World, personhood, and divinatory practices.

The course has a seminar format, thus encouraging active and nourishing discussions, aided by the literature and small weekly assignments. Students will write a final paper, further exploring one of the course topics.
RMA-students will be asked to situate the content of their essay into a broader context of study, by comparing the research outcome inside and/or outside the cultural area being treated.
Through the presentations, a methodology will be proposed for communicating research outcomes from the course themes to contemporary and indigenous societies. RMA-students will coordinate and chair these presentation sessions.


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See the OpenCourseWare page for this course.

Course objectives

  • Sharpen skills on critical and close reading;

  • Ability to connect visual culture, archaeological, historical, and ethnographical data with relevant research questions concerning Native American civilizations of the past and the present;

  • Ability to critically assess current research and theoretical literature and voice one’s well-argumented opinion;

  • Improve the ability to identify a general theoretical perspective concerning ritual and religion within an anthropological framework;

  • Improving the skills to write a paper on a specific research topic, with critical assessment of the literature and one’s own well-argumented opinion, making use of the relevant literature and the information provided by the different presentations;

  • Ability to choose a research topic, find relevant literature, present this via a PowerPoint or Poster presentation and to handle a stimulating discussion afterwards.

  • Gain skills to transmit academic knowledge to non-specialist audiences.

Besides, for RMA-students:

  • Acquisition of the skills to write a research paper situating the data, methodology or theoretical approach into a broader interregional context;

  • Ability to organise, lead and chair a session of presentations, stimulating an active exchange and discussion of ideas.

Ects distribution

The course load will be distributed as follows:

  • 7×2 hours of lectures (1 ects);

  • 280 pages of literature (2 ects);

  • 2,000-word essay (1 ects);

  • 20 hours of practical work for making a presentation, poster or video (1 ects).


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

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar lecture with active discussions and critical analysis of the literature and material given during block 1;

  • Student presentations during block 2.

Assessment method

  • Active participation (10%);

  • Weekly small Blackboard assignments (as preparation for the final essay) (10%);

  • Final essay (max. 2,500 words) (40%);

  • PowerPoint, poster, video presentation (40%).

Assessment deadline

The assignments have strict deadlines each week.

All assessment deadlines (exams, retakes, paper deadlines etc.) can be found in the examination schedule.

Reading list

Various sources, monographs and articles, which in part will be assigned during class, and in part have to be identified by the students themselves (library/internet search).

See Blackboard for further indications of literature and assignments.


Register for this course via uSis.
Instructions for registration can be found in the uSis manual.

Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Prospective students website for information on how to apply.

Contractonderwijs: all information (costs, registration, entry requirements, etc.) for those who are interested in taking this course as a Contractstudent is on the Contractonderwijs Archeologie webpage (in Dutch).

Contact information

For more information about this course, please contact A. Rojas Martinez Gracida MA.