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Cultural Interaction: Conflict and Cooperation


Admission requirements

This course is only available for students in the BA International Studies programme.
Limited places are also open for exchange students.
Please note: this course takes place in The Hague. Traveling between University buildings from Leiden to The Hague may take about 45 minutes.


Following on the first year course “Cultural Studies”, this course takes a micro and a macro approach to interaction between people, cultural artefacts and cultural groups. It does so by systematically relating culture to politics, the economy, and religions, and by asking how we can compare cultures or how we can deal with them in terms of (un-)translatability.

The course examines culture and cultural differences in terms of how they work socio-politically and how they affect people and the interaction between cultural groups. The very term intercultural interaction provokes a pivotal research question: is there one world in which different cultures manifest themselves, or is it the case that cultures shape and embody different worlds? The question will lead us to consider whether cultural expressions are just a matter of expressions or whether they connote forms of life that affect people and societies deeply and on all levels. In this context a question is whether, globally, cultures tend towards becoming the same (as a matter of universalism), or whether they are and remain fundamentally different. If the latter is the case, this connects culture to the political, the realm of constant negotiations, cooperation and disaccord.

Students will have to read one article per session and in sessions we deal with particular cases in a global context.

Course objectives

The goal of this course is to provide students with the theoretical background to account for: 1.) the ways in which culture is used to shape worlds and world views; 2.) the the differences, conflicts and productive ways in which cultures may interact.
More specifically, students will:

  • Be able to assess the role of culture in the dynamics between politics, economics, and religion, in relation to history and global and local situations;

  • Be able to respect cultural differences and interactions in terms of complex forms of understanding, of translation, or fundamental mis-understanding;

  • Gain insight into how sociocultural interpretations are constructed through and during interaction;

  • Learn to apply the theories and methods discussed in the course to analyze communicative, narrative and visual productions from regions of their choice.


The timetable is available on the BA International Studies website.

Mode of instruction


Lectures are held every week, with the exception of the midterm exam week. Weekly lectures will cover issues both inside and outside the readings.


Tutorials are held once every three weeks, with the exception of the midterm exam week. Attending all tutorial sessions is compulsory. If you are unable to attend a session, please inform your tutor in advance. Being absent at more than one of the tutorial sessions will result in a lowering of your tutorial grade (30% of the end grade) with 1 point for each session missed after the first session. Please note that being absent at any tutorial session may have a negative impact on the grade of the assignment due for that particular tutorial session. This is at the discretion of the tutor.

Course Load

Total course load for this course is 5 EC (1 EC = 28 hours), which equals 140 hours, broken down by:

Component Estimated time
Attending lectures 24 hours
Attending tutorials 8 hours
Assessment hours (exams) 2 hours
Study of compulsory literature 64 hours
Completing assignments, preparing for classes and exams 42 hours

Assessment method


  • Presentation:

    Poster presentation during the tutorial.

  • Midterm:

    Diagnostic test (voluntary, non-graded).

  • Final Exam:

    Digital examination.


Partial grade Weighing
Tutorials 30%
Final Exam 70%

End Grade

To successfully complete the course, please take note of the following:

  • The end grade of the course is established by determining the weighted average of Tutorial grade and Final Exam grade.

  • The Final Exam grade needs to be 5.5 or higher.

  • This means that failing Exam grades cannot be compensated with a high Tutorial grade.


If the end grade is insufficient (lower than a 6.0), or the Final Exam is lower than 5.5, there is a possibility of retaking the full 70% of the exam material, replacing Final Exam grade. No resit for the tutorial is possible.
Please note that if the Resit Exam grade is lower than 5.5, you will not pass the course, regardless of the tutorial grade.

Retaking a passing grade

Please consult the Course and Examination Regulations 2019 – 2020.

Exam review and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organised.


Blackboard will be used for tutorial groups. Students are requested to enroll on Blackboard, but only after correct enrolment in uSis.

Reading list

Amongst others: articles by Giorgio Agamben, Paul Gilroy, Gurminder K. Bhambra & Victoria Margree, Geert Hofstede, Bruno Latour, Charles Taylor, Saba Mahmood, Emily Apter, and lemmas from the Stanford Encyclopedia. A detailed syllabus will be provided at the start of the semester; readings will be uploaded on Blackboard one week in advance of the relevant lecture.


  • Enrolment through uSis for Tutorials and Lectures is mandatory.

  • Students will be enrolled for Exams by the Administration Office, as long as they have a valid Tutorial enrolment.

  • General information about uSis is available on the website.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


Prof.dr. F.W.A. Korsten

When contacting lecturers or tutors, please include your full name, student number, and tutorial group number.
Please use your University email-address (uMail) when communicating with any person or department within Leiden University.

Student Affairs Office for BA International Studies