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Thematic Seminar: On the Border: The Sovereign and the Refugee

Vak
2020-2021

Admission requirements

This course is only available for students in the BA International Studies programme.
The number of participants is limited to 24.

Description

The question of the limit decides the limit of all questions that philosophy is able to raise. A discourse on the function of limits, borders and thresholds runs through the history of philosophy, determining at one and the same time political thought and practice. We will engage initially with key figures such as Plato and Hobbes, in order to ground the notion of sovereignty as the source of political power, and in order to explore how sovereignty becomes entangled with the notion of the border, as the limit of a territory, a physical and political limit at once. We will in turn move to 20th century interpretations and critiques of sovereignty, including those of Schmitt, Derrida and Agamben, that nuance and deepen our understanding of the way in which power carves up and controls political, as well as extra-political landscapes. As this exploration unfolds, we will come to see the figure of the refugee emerge as the counterpoint of the sovereign: whereas the latter stands at the threshold of the summit of law, the former leads a marginal existence at the law’s foot. We will thus finally engage with contemporary confrontations of sovereignty from a post-colonial perspective, engaging with Bhabha, Mbembé and Butler’s writings among others. We will thus attempt to explore a mode of thought that does not merely account for, but rather begins with the experience and the voice of the refugee.

The course has a strong theoretical focus, but also undertakes to probe an ongoing reality, that is shaking not only the foundations of Western democracies, but of the status, legitimacy and sustainability of the nation-state at large. In order to meet the requirements of the course, you will be expected to do weekly close readings of the literature and participate in the classroom discussion. After the first week there will be weekly presentations in groups of two or three, the details of which will be discussed in the opening session.

Additionally, the students will work through:

  • W.C. Booth et al., The Craft of Research, fourth edition, Chicago/London: University of Chicago Press, 2016, or;

  • W.C. Booth et al., The Craft of Research, third edition, Chicago/London: University of Chicago Press, 2008.

Course objectives

The Thematic Seminars for International Studies are designed to teach students how to deal with state-of-the-art literature and research questions. They are chosen to enhance the students’ learning experience by building on the multidisciplinary perspectives they have developed so far, and to introduce them to the art of academic research. They are characterised by an international or comparative approach.

Academic skills that are trained include:

Oral and written presentation skills:

1. To explain clear and substantiated research results.
2. To provide an answer to questions concerning (a subject) in the field covered by the course:

  • in the form of a clear and well-structured oral presentation;

  • in agreement with the appropriate disciplinary criteria;

  • using up-to-date presentation techniques;

  • using relevant illustration or multimedia techniques;

  • aimed at a specific audience.
    3. To actively participate in a discussion

Collaboration skills:

1. To provide and receive constructive criticism, and incorporate justified criticism by revising one’s own position.
2. To adhere to agreed schedules and priorities.

Basic research skills, including heuristic skills:

1. To collect and select academic literature using traditional and digital methods and techniques.
2. To analyse and assess this literature with regard to quality and reliability.
3. To formulate on this basis a sound research question.
4. To design under supervision a research plan of limited scope, and implement it using the methods and techniques that are appropriate within the discipline involved.
5. To formulate a substantiated conclusion.

Timetable

Visit MyTimetable.

Mode of instruction

Seminars

Seminars are held every week, with the exception of the Midterm Exam week. This includes supervised research.

Assessment method

Assessment and Weighing

Partial grade Weighing
Oral presentation 30%
In-class participation 20%
Final Research Essay - 5,000 words (between 4,500 and 5,500) 50%

End Grade

To successfully complete the course, please take note that the End Grade of the course is established by determining the weighted average of all assessment components.

Resit

Students who score an overall insufficient grade for the course, are allowed resubmit a reworked version of the Final Essay. The deadline for resubmission is 10 working days after receiving the grade for the Final Research Essay and subsequent feedback.
In case of resubmission of the Final Research Essay the final grade for the Essay will be lowered as a consequence of the longer process of completion.

Students who fail to hand in their final essay on or before the original deadline, but still within 5 working days of that deadline, will receive a grade and feedback on their essay. This will be considered a first submission of the final essay, however, the grade will be lowered as a consequence of the longer process of completion.
Students who fail to hand in their final essay on or before the original deadline, and also fail to hand in their essay within 5 working days of that deadline, get 10 working days, counting from the original deadline, to hand in the first version of their final essay. However, this first version counts as a resubmitted essay with consequential lowering of the grade, and there will be no option of handing in a reworked version based on feedback from the lecturer.

Retaking a passing grade

Retaking a passing grade is not possible for this course.
Please consult the Course and Examination Regulations 2020 – 2021.

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.

Reading list

Required readings will be announced/made available on Brightspace before the beginning of the course.

Additionally, the students will work through:

  • W.C. Booth et al., The Craft of Research, fourth edition, Chicago/London: University of Chicago Press, 2016, or;

  • W.C. Booth et al., The Craft of Research, third edition, Chicago/London: University of Chicago Press, 2008.

Registration

Registration occurs via survey only. Registration opens 14 December 2020:

  1. On 14 December 2020 you will receive a message with a link to the survey.
  2. Indicate there which are your 5 preferred Thematic Seminars, in order of preference.
  3. Based on preferences indicated by 30 December 2020 the course Coordinator will assign you to one specific Thematic Seminar by 20 January 2021.
  4. Students will then be enrolled for the specific groups by the Administration Office.
  5. All students are required to enrol for their group in Brightspace to access all course information.

Students cannot register in uSis for the Thematic Seminar courses, or be allowed into a Thematic Seminar course in any other way.

Contact

Dr. G. Tsagdis

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

Remarks

The deadline for submission of the Final Essay is Friday 11 June 2021.