nl en

Advanced studies in heritage, media and museums


Admission requirements

BA degree in Archaeology, Anthropology, Sociology, Linguistics, Latin American Studies, or another relevant discipline.

Course description

This course deals with the theoretical, methodological and ethical challenges of studying and representing the heritage of indigenous peoples and other descendant communities in ways that productively respond to global contemporary concerns.
We will critically examine the lingering effects of colonialism and racism in the way indigenous and other peoples’ heritages have been represented, valued and discussed in academic writing, as well as in the arts and popular media.
We will also discuss the cultural re-appropriation that indigenous artists and intellectuals are leading in the Americas and other parts of the world to reclaim their heritage in systematic, respectful and creative ways.

With the emergence of indigenous and grassroots movements that aspire to participate in the study and management of heritage, scholars need to be more conscious about the ethical responsibility towards the owners of the tangible and intangible heritage they aim to investigate and preserve. There are diverse ways through which non-descendant heritage researchers can undertake these projects.
Thus, the course aims to offer a space to reflect on ethical, collaborative research, and the challenges of representing heritage in media and museums, by looking at strategies followed in the fields of visual anthropology, indigenous archaeologies, intercultural education and museum post-colonial practice. It offers a chance to reflect theoretically about these issues while, at the same time, it aims to contribute to the practical design of research, writing, communication and curation of heritage.
Although a great emphasis will be put on examples from the Americas, the scope of the seminar is global and comparative: course literature and examples are cross-culturally applicable.

Course objectives

  • To develop a complex, multi-disciplinary and critical understanding of the academic and methodological debates concerning indigenous peoples and other descendant communities involved in heritage research and management (archaeology, linguistics, heritage, history, anthropology);

  • To encourage engagement with the multiple perspectives, as well as the intellectual and practical challenges involved in representing material and cultural heritage through written, oral, audio-visual and curatorial (museological) media;

  • To raise awareness of the ethical responsibilities a researcher of other peoples’ material and cultural heritage should observe in the development of their investigations;

  • To interrogate different ways of transmitting knowledge and communicating research results, keeping in mind the possibilities and challenges that this epistemic diversity bears for inter-cultural communication and dialogue;

  • To sharpen skills on critical discourse analysis of both written and audio-visual texts (i.e. films, TV programmes or online videos), by identifying, summarising and assessing their key propositions and arguments;

  • To improve the skills to write an academic paper, with critical assessment of the relevant literature and available data;

  • To analyse the challenges and pitfalls of cross-cultural communication in contested landscapes;

  • To plan original research in or with indigenous communities that includes innovative theoretical reflections and participatory/ decolonising methodologies;

  • Ability to encourage and conduct stimulating discussions as well as to give feedback to other students.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminars and discussion groups;

  • Lectures;

  • Film screenings and discussions.

Course load

  • 14×2 hours of lectures and seminars (2 ec);

  • Literature and written assignments (1.5 ec);

  • 1 essay of max. 2,000 words. (1.5 ec).

Assessment method

  • Participation and leadership in discussion in seminars (20%);

  • Critical literature review; shown through written assignments or alternative media projects with own innovative approach (40%);

  • Final essay (40%).

Compensation between the grades is allowed, provided that the minimum grade is at least 4.5.

There is only a retake for the final paper, and only if all other requirements have been met.

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

Reading list

  • Tuhiwai Smith, L. (2012). “Introduction” and “Research Through Imperial Eyes”. In: Decolonizing Methodologies (2nd ed.). London & New York: Zed Books;

  • De La Cadena, M. & O. Starn (2007). “Introduction: Indigenous Experience Today”. In: De La Cadena, M. & O. Starn., eds. Indigenous Experience Today. Oxford and New York: Berg Publications, The Wenner-Gren Foundation; pp. 1 – 30;

  • Ormond Parker, L. 2005. “Indigenous peoples’ rights to their cultural heritage”. Public Archaeology 4:127–140;

  • Ginsburg, Faye. "Embedded Aesthetics: Creating a Discursive Space for Indigenous Media." Cultural Anthropology 9.3 (1994): 365–382;

  • Lidchi, H. (2013 [1997]). “The poetics and the politics of exhibiting other cultures”. In: Hall, Evans and Nixon, eds.; Representation: Cultural Representations and Signifying Practices (2nd. Ed). Sage Publications, London. Pp. 120 – 192;

  • Smith, C., and H. M. Wobst, eds. (2005). Indigenous archaeologies: Decolonizing theory and practice. New York and London: Routledge.


  • Diamond, N.; dir. (2010). Reel Injun. On The Trail of the Hollywood Indian. Co-produced by Rezolution Pictures (Reel Injun), Inc. and the National Film Board of Canada. 56 minutes;

  • Rozental and Lerner (2013). The Absent Stone (La Piedra Ausente). FOPROCINE, INAH, The American Egypt. 82 minutes;

  • Other films to be added later.


Registration for the course or the exam is not required.


For more information about this course, please contact dr. G. Llanes Ortiz


Compulsory attendance.