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History & Politics of Global Migration




Admissions requirements

Birth of the Modern World


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 1800s. We will start in week 1 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 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.

Course objectives


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

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

  • To assist students to apply migration theory to the analysis of empirical case studies

  • To facilitate students to independently formulate clear and well-argued opinions concerning migration


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

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

  • To encourage students to compare and contrast past migration with more contemporary patterns and debates


Once available, timetables will be published in the e-Prospectus.

Mode of instruction

The course will be taught predominantly through seminars. The first seminar of the week will focus on historical migration and will feature a short overview from the instructor about the topic under analysis in the first half of the class. Thereafter, the assigned reading will be analysed and debated.

The second seminar of the week will begin with a short group presentation (c. 20 minutes) of a primary historical source relating to Tuesday’s class (e.g. Equiano’s slave voyage). We will then move on to more contemporary issues by discussing the assigned reading for that class. We will end the seminar with a class debate that will be student-led. Assigned groups will be expected to provide arguments to support and oppose certain motions.

Seminars will sometimes involve group work analysing the assigned literature and/or other sources, such as video clips, art, music, podcasts, etc. There will also be an excursion to Rotterdam towards the end of the course.


Participation (10%)
Literature reviews (20%)
Account of interview with asylum seeker/refugee/migrant (15%)
Group presentations on primary sources (10%)
Abstract (5%)
Final essay (40%)

Please note:

  • In accordance with article 4.8 of the Course and Examination Regulations (OER), within 30 days after the publication of grades, the instructor will provide students the opportunity to inspect their exams/coursework.

  • There is a no re-sit policy at Leiden University College.


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

  • Arendt, Hannah, The Origins of Totalitarianism, Cleveland: World Publishing Company (2nd ed.), 1958 (extracts).

  • Castles, Stephen, Hein De Haas, and Mark J. Miller, The age of migration: International population movements in the modern world, London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014 (extracts).

  • Gardner, Andrew M., ‘Gulf Migration and the Family’, Journal of Arabian Studies: Arabia, the Gulf, and the Red Sea 1.1, 2011, 3-25.

  • Favell, Adrian Eurostars and Eurocities: Free Moving Urban Professionals in an Integrating Europe, Oxford: Blackwell, 2008 (selected extracts).

  • Kingsley, Patrick, The New Odyssey: The Story of Europe's Refugee Crisis, London: Faber, 2016 (extracts).

  • Lucassen, Leo and Jan Lucassen, ‘The Strange Death of Dutch Tolerance: The Timing and Nature of the Pessimist Turn in the Dutch Migration Debate’, Journal of Modern History 87.1, 2015, 72-101.

  • McKeown, Adam, ‘Global migration 1846-1940’, Journal of World History 15.2, 2004, 155-189.

  • Moses, Dirk, ‘An antipodean genocide? The origins of the genocidal moment in the colonization of Australia’, Journal of Genocide Research, 2:1, 2000, 89-106.

  • Sowande' M. Mustakeem, Slavery at Sea: Terror, Sex, and Sickness in the Middle Passage, Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2016 (extracts) OR Smallwood, Stephanie E, Saltwater Slavery: A Middle Passage from Africa to American Diaspora, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. 2007 (extracts), TBC.

  • Oostindie, Gert, Postcolonial Netherlands: Sixty-five years of forgetting, commemorating, silencing, Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2011 (extracts).

  • Putnam, Robert, ‘E pluribus unum: Diversity and community in the twenty‐first century’, Scandinavian Political Studies 30.2, 2007, 137-174.

  • Rensmann, Lars and Jennifer Miller, ‘Xenophobia and Anti-Immigrant Politics’, in Robert A. Denemark (ed.), International Studies Encyclopedia: Ethnic Minorities and Migration, Oxford: Blackwell, 2010, 7628-7653.

  • Wilkerson, Isabel, The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration, New York: Random House, 2010 (extracts).


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



This course will touch on some aspects covered by Dr. Ann Wilson in her 200-level course Historical Approaches to Diversity: Racism in Historical Perspective.