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Advanced Themes in Archaeology


Admission requirements

Admission to the Research Master Archaeology programme.


Theme: A worldwide archaeological and anthropological perspective on colonialism, globalisation, decolonisation.

European expansion into the non-Western world at the end of the 15th century represents a landmark in global history. The colonisation of the Americas is one of the most transfigurative and infamous episodes in world history, as native societies were suddenly and dramatically transformed.

Indigenous people responded to the colonial invasion in various ways and attempted to negotiate, sometimes successfully, interactions with Europe. Yet indigenous voices often remain marginalised in colonial and post-colonial historiographies, overwritten by narratives of conquest and hegemony.
The archaeological record is perfectly suited to provide novel insights into these infamous histories by uncovering the indigenous perspectives hitherto biased by still dominant Eurocentric viewpoints and narratives.

While focusing on the Americas, this thematic course also looks at the deep histories of Africa, and Southeast-Asia/Pacific where similar processes of exploitation, domination and neglect have taken place.
It explores comparative trans-disciplinary approaches that allow the construction of bigger pictures, using a variety of methodologies and techniques, and emphasising the archaeological data critically juxtaposed with documentary and oral sources.

In this perspective, the course also discusses transformative processes related to colonialism that involved Europe, the Mediterranean, and Eurasia.
The study of hitherto undisclosed indigenous histories can contribute to a more nuanced understanding of the roles of the past in the present, and can reach multiple and perhaps competing stakeholders at local, regional, pan-regional, and global levels.

Course set-up

Each 2-hour class is composed of a lecture and includes an in-class discussion and/or presentations.
Lectures are arranged according to the spatial frames, and are related to the leading topics of this year’s theme of the course.
After an introduction of the theme by the course coordinators, case studies from several world regions will be presented by experts. Two readings are assigned on a weekly basis and serve as a backdrop for the in-class discussion.

1. Introduction and the Caribbean
2. Middle and South America
3. Europe
4. The Mediterranean
Mini symposium
5. Eurasia
6. South Africa
7. Australasia-Southeast-Asia

Course objectives

  • Knowledge of the recent debates concerning the many facets of this year’s theme, i.e. a worldwide archaeological and anthropological perspective on colonialism, globalisation, decolonisation;

  • Ability to evaluate and discuss the lectures’ content, the relevant literature, and the many facets of this year’s theme;

  • Ability to present one’s view in class discussions and to present in teams;

  • Ability to write and critically evaluate a symposium presentation;

  • Ability to better understand the multifarious roles of material culture in the interdisciplinary (re)constructions of the past.


Course schedule details can be found in the RMA and RMSc time schedule.

Mode of instruction

  • Interactive lectures;

  • Class discussions;

  • One in-class presentation on assigned readings and a group discussion on the peer-reviews of the mini-symposium.

Course load

  • 7 × 2 hours of lectures (1 ec);

  • 280 pages of literature (including article presentations and discussions) (2 ec);

  • Assignments (symposium attendance, 1,500-word essay and peer review of symposium (500 words in team) (2 ec).

Assessment method

  • 1,500-word essay formatted as a (publishable) scholarly article, to be handed in 2 weeks after the end of the course (50%);

  • Peer review of mini symposium (in teams) (20%);

  • Presentation: related to the article assigned in one of the classes + one additional article found by the student (20%);

  • In-class discussion (10%).

All assessment deadlines (exams, retakes, paper deadlines etc.) can be found in the RMA and RMSc examination schedule.
7 April: Submission of essay and peer review symposium presentation.
28 April: Grading and feedback.

Reading list

To be published on Brightspace.


Registration via uSis is mandatory.

  • The Administration Office will register all BA1 students for their tutorials (not lectures; register via uSis!).

  • BA2, BA3, MA/MSc and RMA/RMSc students are required to register for all lectures and tutorials well in time.

  • The Administration Office registers all students for their exams, students are not required to do this in uSis.


For more information about this course, please contact prof. dr. C.L. (Corinne) Hofman.


Compulsory attendance.