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Footprints of the European expansion: Perspectives on shared cultural heritage


Admission requirements

Bachelor’s degree obtained.


The European expansion since the end of the 15th century has put a major weight on the history of international relations. An intensive trade and shipping network connected many countries worldwide. Famous are the Spice Route, Silk Road and the Slave route, but over the centuries many other regions were also connected through trade and colonial rule. These activities left behind various cultural traces in buildings, shipwrecks, landscapes, archives and traditions.

The historical archaeological research is focused on the interaction between various cultures meeting on trade routes developed around port cities over many centuries. These cultural footprints are now considered ‘shared cultural heritage. Important junctions in the network are often also recognised as UNESCO World Heritage Sites for their universal and global value.

In this course you will be introduced to the history of the European expansion in its many facets: we will combine historical archaeological research into maritime and colonial landscapes with the theory and practice of heritage management. Terminologies such as mutual, common, global, dark and contested heritage will be discussed. The focus will be on the developments in the Indian Ocean in a comparative global perspective.

The acquired knowledge and insights will be applied in a research assignment on a subject of selected ‘shared heritage sites’. There is a tentative possibility to conduct this research during a field school on a World Heritage Site in the Indian Ocean region, where all the skills acquired during the course will be put to practice.

Course objectives

  • Understanding the history of the European expansion in the context of historical trade routes;

  • Problematise the multi-layered aspects of archaeological sites connected with the history of European expansion and nominated as cultural heritage site;

  • Understanding the basic theory of cultural heritage and how the concept of heritage has changed in the course of time;

  • Developing a holistic understanding of heritage and discuss the various perspectives;

  • Demonstrating one’s ability to apply their learning in the context of a complex archaeological site/cultural heritage site in a presentation;

  • Designing a basic multidisciplinary research about a World Heritage Site;

  • Evaluating academic, cultural, political and social dimensions of heritage issues.


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

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures;

  • Seminar/tutorial;

  • Excursion (tentative).

Course load

The course load will be distributed as follows:

Assessment method

  • Participation in discussion (10%);

  • Classroom presentation + written assignments (20%);

  • Group assignment (20%);

  • Final essay (50%).

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

Reading list

Will be handed out during class.


Registration for the course is not necessary, registration for the exam is mandatory. For instructions, see the Registration in uSis page.


For more information about this course, please contact dr R. Parthesius.


The maximum amount of students for this course is 15.