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Globalization and Cultural Studies


Admission requirements

This course is only available for students in the BA International Studies.


Every regional culture in the world is shaped not just by its own local history and logic, but also by transcultural, global processes. In spite of the fact that globalization is often thought of as a homogenizing force, these processes have a very different impact on different regions. In this course, we will study the different ways in which we can understand the ever-changing, interactive relationships between ‘traditional’ and ‘modern’ forms of knowing in local and global settings.

One of the central aims of this course is to explore the different forms of knowledge, thought, and expression through which theoretical, political, artistic, and everyday communication within and across different regions of the world is currently taking place, and how these differences are being critically engaged with. For instance, we will ask: in what ways does cultural theory positing itself as ‘universal’ appear to be culturally located, ‘provincial’ in its assumptions about knowledge and subjectivity, and in the very categories it employs? What alternatives to universalizing discourses about culture and society, formulated within both modern and postmodern paradigms, have been emerging on the ‘peripheries’ of the ‘world system’ and how have they been impacting the ‘centre’ and each other? In discussing these issues, we will inquire into the intimate links between the practice of theory and the practices of art and cultural criticism in terms of their politics and their ways of social engagement.

In the sweep of globalization and the seemingly ever-growing reach of interaction with even the most remote areas of the world, communication plays an important role in monitoring and regulating global interaction. Globalization entails an increasing number of different agents interacting and communicating with each other: it is often claimed that globalization is contributing to homogeneity and is the death-knell of cultural and linguistic diversity. While this may be true on one level, the processes involved in sustaining global communication have become ever-more layered and complex. Knowing how to name objects in another’s language, be it a global language or not, does not constitute effective communication. Rather communication is politically, economically and culturally contextualized.

In this course we will discuss different themes, concepts and theories that address the relation between the global and the local, ranging from language and politics to identity formation, modernity, cyber-culture, and intercultural communication. Each theme will be elaborated on using specific case studies from different regions of the world, to increase our understanding of the concrete, striking differences and contradictions that are produced as the global and the local interact.

Course objectives

Students will

  • Gain insight into the debates on the issues of knowledge production involving critical perspectives from different regions of the world;

  • Learn to reflect on and interrogate the meaning of the main concepts in cultural studies as applied in different cultural contexts;

  • Learn to apply the theories and methods discussed in the course to analyze communicative, narrative and visual productions from regions of their choice.


The timetable is available on the BA International Studies website.

Mode of instruction

  • Lecture

  • Tutorials

Attending lectures and tutorials is compulsory. If you are not able to attend a lecture or tutorial, please inform the tutor of the course. Being absent without notification can result in a lower grade or exclusion from the final exam or essay.

Assessment method

Written exam: 70%
Essay: 30%


Blackboard will be used. Students are requested to register on Blackboard for this course.

Reading list

A reader. This reader needs to be ordere online before the start of the academic year. Here you will find the link for ordering the reader:


Students are requested to register through uSis, the registration system of Leiden University for this course. General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


The lectures will not be webcast.