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Globalisation, Culture and Language


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, language and communication play an important role in monitoring and regulating global interaction and have a complex historical background playing a major role until nowadays. 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, sociolinguistics and intercultural communication 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.

Course Load

Total course load for this course is 5 EC x 28 hours is 140 hours, broken down by:

  • 12 lectures: 24 hours

  • 4 tutorials: 8 hours

  • Reading & self-study: 72 hours

  • Research & paper writing: 36 hours

Assessment method

Mid-term exam: 30%
Tutorial and Essay: 30%
Written final exam: 40%

If the final grade is insufficient (lower than a 6), there is the possibility of retaking the full 70% of the exam material, replacing both the earlier mid- and endterm grades. No resit for the tutorials is possible.


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

Reading list

Articles (one/lecture) will be put on Blackboard (no 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. Attendance is compulsory.


Hum – OSZ Globalisation