nl en

Colonial encounters


Compulsory attendance


Admission requirements

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


This course will discuss the European invasion and colonisation of the Americas presenting and comparing two macro-regions, the Caribbean and the Andes, during the 15th through 17th centuries.
The course combines and contrasts the results of historical and archaeological investigations. After presenting the basic informative referential frames, we will analyse the different models employed by the Europeans to dominate the New World.

Historical interpretations will allow us to discuss the general panorama of the world system emerging from the multifarious interactions between the Old World newcomers and the New World locals. Material culture will allow us to focus on certain specific case studies, such as
1) the pearl fishery on Cubagua Island (the town of Nueva Cadiz, 1528);
2) the quest for the salt (Dutch enterprises on the northeastern coast and islands of Venezuela, 1595-1638);
3) the invasion of the Andes, focusing on the capture of the Inca and its aftermath;
4) the imposition and negotiation of a new urban system in the Andes.

RMA students will be asked to situate the content of their essay into a broader socio-cultural, methodological and theoretical context of study.

Course objectives

  • Ability to critically assess and meaningfully interconnect the archaeological, historical, and ethnographical data related to early colonial encounters between the Amerindians and the Europeans in the Caribbean and South American Andes macroregions;

  • Ability to critically assess current research and theoretical literature on colonialism, especially with relation to the above-mentioned macro-regions;

  • Ability to identify different colonial mechanisms put at work by diverse colonial powers in the regions under study and trace their long-lasting effects on local populations;

  • Ability to identify and understand autochthonous responses to the colonial power in the studied regions;

  • Improving the skills on critical reading of pertinent academic texts and abstracting from them synthetic points for further on line and in class discussions;

  • Ability to select a research topic, compile relevant literature, and create and present in class a PowerPoint presentation, showing the ability to handle a stimulating discussion afterwards;

  • Improving writing skills while working on a paper related to a specific research topic and aiming at critical interlocking of the relevant literature and the information provided during the course.

For RMA students, in addition to the above:

  • Acquiring the skills to write a research paper drawing from a relatively rich number of bibliographic sources and linking the specific data set to an updated theoretical and methodological approach into a broad interregional context;

  • Ability lead a discussion after the presentation, stimulating an active exchange and discussion of ideas;

  • Ability to contribute with critical and constructive ideas during the in class discussions as well as the on line postings.

Ects distribution

The course load will be distributed as follows:

  • 7×2 hours of lectures (1 ects);

  • 300 pages of literature study (2 ects);

  • Essay (2,000 words) (1 ects);

  • 20 hours of practical work for making a presentation (1 ects).


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

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar lectures;

  • Active discussions on the critical analysis of the literature;

  • Presentations made by small teams of students.

Assessment method

  • Active in class participation (15%);

  • Discussion points (15%);

  • Final essay (max. 2500 words) (40%);

  • PowerPoint presentation (30%).

Assessment deadline

There are strict weekly deadlines for the submission of the discussion points on BlackBoard and for the presentations (the schedule of the presentations will be arranged in due time).

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

Reading list

The reading list includes various sources, monographs and articles, which will be closely related to the subsequent topics of the course and assigned in advance for every class. The students will have to identify by themselves (library/internet search) the literature necessary for the preparation of the presentations and for the final essay.

All information related to the assignments and literature will be posted on BlackBoard.


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 Contractstudents is on the Contractonderwijs Archeologie webpage (in Dutch).

Contact information

For more information about this course, please contact dr. A.T. Antczak or dr. G.U. Ramón Joffre.