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History & Politics of Global Migration




Admissions requirements



Migration has always been a key feature of human society. Human movement across oceans and borders is responsible for cultural interactions that have led to both positive and negative social, political, economic and cultural changes. In this course we will examine how migration has shaped the modern world. Most of our focus will be dedicated to what has occurred since the 1700s. We will start by looking at the various theories put forward to explain why people migrate and what effect this has for the sender communities, the receiver communities and for migrants themselves. We will then turn to more empirical examples of migration. Each week we will examine a different type of movement. One weekly seminar will be dedicated to an historical case study, while the other weekly seminar will focus on a more contemporary case study on a related type of movement.

Topics that will be covered include slavery, colonial and post-colonial migration, labour migration, internal migration and asylum. Due to the global nature of the course, texts will include studies concerning Africa, North America, Europe, Asia, the Caribbean, the Middle East, the Gulf States and Australia. Towards the end of the course, our focus will turn to migration politics.

The main aims of the course are:

  • To provide students with an overview of how migration has affected modern society

  • To enable students to consider contemporary migration debates from historical perspectives

  • To expose students to the various disciplinary approaches that scholars use to examine migration

  • To provide students with a range of opportunities to develop their analytical and presentation skills

Course objectives

At the end of this course, students should be able to:

  • Apply migration theory to the analysis of empirical case studies

  • Compare and contrast past migration with more contemporary patterns and debates

  • Independently formulate clear and well-argued opinions concerning migration

  • Analyse and evaluate literature and sources for the purpose of producing an original scholarly research paper
    Students will be expected to demonstrate these skills during seminar debates, presentations and written assignments.


Once available, timetables will be published here.

Mode of instruction

The course will be taught predominantly through seminars. Tuesday seminars, which focus on historical migration, will feature a short overview from the instructor about the topic under analysis in the first half of the class. A short group presentation (c. 15 minutes) will present a primary source relating to the topic under discussion (e.g. a written account of an indentured migrant’s experiences in the nineteenth century). The reading(s) will also be analysed and debated. Friday seminars, which concentrate on more contemporary issues, will be predominantly student-led. Seminars will start with a group presentation (15 minutes). These same students will then lead the group discussions that follow. The second half of the seminar will again be devoted mostly to a debate about the readings. In addition to the selected literature, video clips, art, music, podcasts and other sources will also be used throughout.


Each student will write two short individual assignments on the historical literature (2 x 500 words), participate in two group presentations (one historical, one contemporary), write up an interview you did with an asylum seeker or refugee (including video/audio and photos if possible), and write a paper of approximately 3,000 words. Students are expected to play a very active role in seminars.

  • In-class participation, 15%

  • Critical analyses of readings {500-750 words each}, 20%

  • Account of interview with asylum seeker/refugee {1,00-1,500 words}, 10%

  • Group presentations, 15%

  • Final essay {3,000 words}, 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

All the readings listed below are available to download from Leiden’s online library catalogue or from Blackboard. If you have any problems accessing any of the readings, please email me.

A short bibliography of recommended readings related to various themes will be put 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


Dr. Nadia Bouras,