nl en

Topics in Amerindian transdisciplinary research


Admission requirements

BA in (Descriptive) Linguistics, Anthropology, Heritage Studies, Archaeology or the like.


The scientific endeavor is characterized by the study and production of knowledge and knowledge systems, largely however to the exclusion of native scientific paradigms. The colonization of the Americas persists today not only in a socio-economic sense but also in academia. Such thinking is not only anathema to basic academic canons, especially the search for knowledge, but it runs against the increasing demand for academia to have societal relevance and contribute to solving complex societal problems. Monodisciplinary research, while meritorious in and of itself, is insufficient to address the complexity of the problems of our global society. This course aims to explore a ‘new and open intellectual space’ of transdisciplinary decolonized research that will contribute to a mutual understanding of Indigenous Peoples and help alleviate the crass problems of inequality facing them due to colonized dominance paradigms. As such we will investigate our own conditioning and assumptions about the world and look for methodologies for the integration of western and native knowledge systems in order to understand the indigenous world from a holistic point of view rather than from just one aspect of it. Our topic and point of departure is the quality of life of Indigenous peoples of the Americas, especially Mexico and Suriname. Subtopics include approaches to understanding ontological difference, perceptions of land and land rights struggles, aggression and dominance, health, (un)sustainability, etc. We will first deliberate on the theoretical underpinnings of transdisciplinary research in order to define the field and set it apart from inter- and multi-disciplinary approaches. We will then formulate a project framework and develop a multi-vocal methodology for a project on land, landscape and land rights.
It is important to note that in this hands-on seminar students will need to be committed since they will be pushed to think, discuss and read beyond their own disciplinary boundaries. Literature will be announced during 1st class.

Course objectives

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • understand the difference between inter- multi- and transdisciplinary research

  • apply their monodisciplinary knowledge (linguistic/anthropological etc.) to multi-vocal collaborative research

  • contribute to high-level discussions pertaining to land rights, perceptions of land and landscape and formulate new ways to put linguistic knowledge into practice

  • use practical skills to demonstrate how academics can contribute positively to complex societal problems of Indigenous Peoples

  • present the final results of their project


The timetable is available on the MA Linguistics website.

Mode of instruction


Course Load

Total course load: 10 ec, 280 hours.

  • time spent on attending lectures: 28 hours

  • time for studying the compulsory literature: 90 hours

  • time to prepare the two presentations: 40 hours

  • time to write a paper (including reading/research): 122 hours

Students may also be directed to attend the International Colloquium on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (in Leiden) or other similar event in Leiden as appropriate.

Assessment Method

1 oral presentation on a selected (theoretical) piece of literature 25%

1 oral presentation on their own project 25%

A written paper based on the oral presentation of their own research project 50%

The final grade consists of weighted average of the above components. Please note that a pass on the 2 presentations is a requirement for successfully completing the entire course.

Resit: students who fail the course may re-write the course paper.

Exam Review

Students are entitled to view their marked examination within a period of 30 days, following publication of the results of a written examination.


Blackboard wil be used for:

  • Announcements

Reading list

Literature list will be supplied at the beginning of the course. Students should note that they are required to read set literature from several disciplines (not only linguistic literature).


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available on the website.

When registering, students that are registered for the specialisation that this course belongs to, or the Research Master, take priority. The deadline for registration is August 15. All other students should contact the coordinator of studies.

Students other than MA Linguistics need permission from the coordinator of studies before enrolling.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable


Dr. Eithne B. Carlin

Please contact Student administration van Eyckhof


Minimum of 5 students required for this course to be taught.