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Social Movements and Identity Politics




Admissions requirements

Birth of the Modern World or permission of instructor.


All over the world, social movements mobilize people to challenge regimes, unjust policies and inequalities. Movements have been instrumental in changing laws, governments and policies. Even when movements are ultimately unsuccessful, they are nonetheless influential. But what drives individual activists? How are social movements formed? What kind of changes can they bring about? And how do social scientists and historians research these movements?

The goal of this course is not only to provide students with a global overview of the history of social movements. Rather, this course will focus on creating insight into the academic debates on the development of social movements. To do so, we will discuss general overviews on social movements, protest and conflict, as well as specific case studies on particular movements, such as the Black Panthers and the Squatters Movement. In each case, we will review core texts on these topics to see which are the main points of debate amongst academics working in this field.

The goal of this course is, thus, to give students insight into the way academics debate their work; to start seeing academic studies not merely as a source of information, but as a starting point for debates on 1) the sources academics use, 2) the methodologies they apply in analyzing these sources, and 3) the conclusions that they reach.

Course objectives

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • analyze, understand and explain the development of social movements from 1968 to the present.

  • apply a critical perspective when reading and analyzing how historians have written about the past.

  • identify historiographical debates and reflect upon their own position within these debates.

  • devise and execute a well written historical essay.


Once available, timetables will be published here.

Mode of instruction

Seminar in which students will be expected to participate actively.


  • Students are required to read two assigned articles or book chapters each week. These texts form the basis of the discussions during the seminars. Participation is assessed and counts for 10% of the grade.

  • After the 7th seminar, each student writes a brief essay, reviewing the literature discussed up to that point and introducing his or her topic of choice. This mid-term assignment counts for 20% of the grade.

  • Next to this, each student will pick one particular social movement as their topic of choice. S/he will search and select three seminal texts on the topic and write an historiographical essay on the topic in which s/he reconstructs the historiographical debate on that topic. To do so, s/he analyzes and discusses the sources and methods the various authors use, as well as the conclusions they reach. This end paper counts as 40% of the grade.

  • Each student will present his or her project, this presentation counts for 10% of the grade.

Weekly Assignments 10%
Presentation 20%
Participation 10%
Mid-term Assignment: 20%
Paper 40%


There will be a Blackboard site available for this course. Students will be enrolled at least one week before the start of classes.

Reading list

Course readings will be posted on Blackboard.


This course is open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Registration is coordinated by the Curriculum Coordinator. Interested non-LUC students should contact