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States and Citizens


Admission Requirements

The following categories of students can register for this course:

  • Students enrolled for the bachelor programme CADS at Leiden University who have passed the propaedeutic phase.

  • Bachelor students from other academic programmes from Leiden University who have passed the propaedeutic phase of their programme and who want to follow this course as a level 300 elective.

N.B.: Because of the limited number of available places for this course, selection may have to take place among the students from other academic programmes from Leiden University.

The following category will be registered and selected by our administration after explicit admission procedure:

  • Exchange and Study Abroad students who have been admitted to this course.

Course Description

States shape the lives of people across the globe, and people become citizens, or non-citizens, in relation to those states. National states play a crucial role in the allocation of political and social rights, and in the governance of populations. However, the growing importance of global connections and flows, and of supranational bodies has resulted in often frictional multi-scalar combinations of governance relations and configurations of rights and duties. But what is ‘the state’? How are state authority and governance shaped in relation to other powerful actors and institutions, whether local community leaders or international organizations? And how do states relate to the various people in their territorial remit? What types of legal, political and social-cultural belonging are organized through official versions of citizenship, and what forms of belonging and mobilization exceed and contest such citizenship?

In this course, we discuss what anthropologists have to say about the state, and how they go about studying that ubiquitous yet ephemeral entity. After examining approaches to the state which are now classical in anthropology, we explore Michel Foucault’s key concept of ‘governmentality’, or, ‘the conduct of conduct’, to understand how states govern populations. We then use various anthropological studies to explore different types of states, and the way they relate to other actors and institutions. We also study how states relate to their populations or citizens, and examine various forms of citizenship, including ones beyond and against the state.

Course Objectives

The course will enable students to:

  • Understand core discussions in the anthropology of the state.

  • Know how to study the state and its relation to citizens in an anthropological fashion.

  • Learn how to connect theoretical debates and case studies on states and citizens to current, actual cases in the news.

  • Advance academic writing skills through written assignments.

  • Advance discussion skills by active participation in debates during the sessions.


For dates, see our website

Mode of Instruction

Total 10 ECTS = 280 study hours (sbu):

  • Lectures/tutorials 12×3 hours * 1,5 = 54 sbu

  • Study of literature (ca. 1,150 pages) =165 sbu

  • Response notes = 16 sbu

  • Presentation = 12 sbu

  • Book essay (2,500 words) = 33 sbu

Assessment Method

  • Four response notes – pass/fail, 3 out of 4 need to be passed

  • Group presentation – 20% of the final grade

  • One book essay – 40% of the final grade

  • Take home exam – 40% of the final grade

The assessment of the course includes a group presentation in which the literature is related to an actual case (20%), a book essay (40%) and a take-home exam (40%). Class attendance is mandatory. This is a reading-intensive course, and students are expected to hand in 4 response notes on the literature. The sessions will consist of a mixed-format of lectures, tutorials (discussion of the literature) and presentations. Students are expected to read the assigned literature prior to the sessions.

To take part in the take home exam, you need to have received a passing grade on at least 3 out of 4 response notes. The quality of your response notes will be taken into account when rounding off the final grade.

A re-take of the take home exam is possible but only if the final grade is below 6.0, and if the student has participated actively in the course and submitted satisfactory responses to at least most of the assignments.

Class attendance is mandatory.


Brightspace is the digital learning environment of Leiden University. Brightspace gives access to course announcements and electronic study material. Assignments will also be submitted in Brightspace. Announcements about and changes to courses are given in Brightspace. Students are advised to check Brightspace daily to remain informed about rooms, schedules, deadlines, and details of assignments. Lecturers assume that all students read information posted on Brightspace.

-How to login

The homepage for Brightspace is: Brightspace

Please log in with your ULCN-account and personal password. On the left you will see an overview of My Courses.

For access to your courses in Brightspace you need to be registered in uSis for these courses.

Course Literature

One ethnographic monograph (to be selected from a list) and articles/book chapters, which can be accessed in the Leiden University digital library.

The course syllabus and final reading list will be available on Brightspace by December 2020.


  • Registration in uSis is mandatory for the lectures for all participants. Please consult the course registration website for information on registration periods and further instructions.

  • Registration for the exam is NOT necessary because this course does not have one final (classical) exam.

  • Exchange students: If you have officially been admitted for this course during the Admission Procedure, you will be registered for the lectures by the faculty’s Student Service Center.


Dr. Anouk de Koning