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Multicultural City Lecture Series


Admission requirements

This course is available for students in the BA Urban Studies programme and to a limited amount of external students.


During this course we will explore the relation between multicultural cities and processes of segregation, integration and interaction from different perspectives including historical, sociological, cultural and multilingual perspectives.

The course is divided into twelve lectures and 3 building blocks that all students will attend. The three building blocks each will consist of four lectures focused on 1. History and sociology, 2. culture, 3. language.

The building blocks all explore cities in light of segregation, integration and interaction. The fourth session in each block focusses on one particular city as a paradigmatic example.

  1. History and sociology: This first building block focuses on sociological and historical understandings of multiculturality in light of urban processes of segregation, integration and interaction. We will look at the theoretical relevance of multiculturality and at the various factors that have enabled and hindered immigrants’ settlement in cities. We will explore patterns of segregation in cities and the impact of such processes on the lives of city dwellers, and the ways of interaction between various cultural groups in the past and today. The paradigmatic city in the fourth session is Johannesburg

  2. Culture: This second building block focuses on the way in which multiculturality is, indeed, an issue of culture in its relation to ethnic, religious and social backgrounds. We will look especially at different modes of cultural expression, the role of media in this respect, and the ways in which multiculturality leads to forms of empowerment, transformation and creativity. Guiding threads are how cultures, as forms of life, relate to people’s status as political subjects of cities and how they colour individual cities in their own distinct way, providing them with a certain character. The paradigmatic city in the fourth session is Mumbai.

  3. Language: This third building block focuses on the roles of language in the dynamic of multicultural cities. Languages are not only the expression of communal existence, they also serve to mark social layers, the demarcations of subcultures, they help people to define themselves by means of gender, or they function as tools of division. At the same time languages are the major modes of connection and of communication in relation to whatever it is that human beings exchange in their desires to get something from or give something to others. The paradigmatic city in the fourth session is Amsterdam and the Randstad.

Course objectives

The student has acquired:

  • 1) the ability to critically reflect on knowledge, methodology and outcomes provided by readings.

  • 2) the ability to recognize parallels and differences by comparing between two themes.

At the end of the course, the student can:

  • 3) assess the most important patterns of segregation, integration and interaction in cities in the past,
    explain how cultural dynamics are characterized by a mixture of specific cultures and how all this relates to language,

  • 4) consider multiculturality as a matter of intersectionality, that is to say as an issue in which matters of ethnicity, religion, gender, social stratification, education etc. all determine the span and depth of human agency,

  • 5) sense the intricate texture that not only marks each multicultural city but also determines the interdependencies and tensions which empower or threaten its existence,

  • 6) define and use his or her individual cultural background(s) in any form of multicultural analysis or reflect on possible blind spots,

  • 7) distinguish the different forms of culture that are dynamically related in and through the city.


Visit MyTimetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Lecture

Assessment method


  • Three essays (One essay per thematic block, each reflecting on concepts and research discussed. For further details please see the course syllabus.)
    -measured programme's general learning outcomes: 1, 4-5, 9, 11, 13, 15, 22
    -measured course specific objectives: 1-7


Partial grade Weighing
Essays 100

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 the three essays with each essay accounting for 1/3 of the grade.

  • The weighted average of essay grades needs to be 5.50 or higher.


If you fail your essay grade (the grade is below 5.5) you may resubmit the failed essay(s) for the chance to obtain a pass grade (5.50). The deadline for the resubmission of the resit essay is to be consulted with the lecturer.

Faculty regulations concerning participation in resits are listed in article 4.1 of the Faculty Course and Examination Regulations.

Exam review

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 organized.

Reading list

The course uses either open source articles and works with a small syllabus thst is provided before the course starts.


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

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


Dr. D. Smakman Dr. A. Kefford Dr. L. van Kessel