nl en

History & Politics of Global Migration


Admission requirements

Required course(s):

Birth of the Modern World


In this course we will examine how migration has shaped the modern world and vice versa. With the current ‘refugee crisis’ in mind, we will investigate several aspects of the modern history of migration. Most of our focus will be dedicated to what has occurred in the twentieth and twenty-first century. We will start by exploring how the global movement of human actors could be studied and how historians of migration analyze their data or sources. We will then turn to more empirical examples that cover two aspects of the history of migration in particular: statelessness and religion. During the seminars we discuss a variety of academic texts and historical and contemporary sources. Topics covered include global migration governance, statelessness, asylum, refugee archives and religion. Due to the global nature of the course, texts will include perspectives from different parts of the world.

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 become a modern political issue

  • 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


Timetables for courses offered at Leiden University College in 2021-2022 will be published on this page of the e-Prospectus.

Mode of instruction

The course will be taught predominantly through seminars. The seminars will often feature a short overview from the instructor about the topic under analysis. The focus will be on a common understanding of and debate about the assigned readings and related contemporary issues.

Every week one of the seminars will begin with a short group presentation (c. 20 minutes) of a primary historical source. We will end these seminars 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.

Assessment Method

Participation (10%)
Literature reviews (15%)
Assignment ‘social life of an object’ (20%)
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.

Reading list

  • Arendt, Hannah, The Origins of Totalitarianism (Cleveland: World Publishing Company, 1958) [extracts].

  • Boudou, Benjamin, Hans Leaman, Maximilian Michael Scholz, ‘Sacred Welcomes’, Migration and Society 4, 1 (2021), 99-109.

  • De Haas, Hein, ‘A theory of migration: the aspirations capabilities framework’, Comparative Migration Studies 9, 8 (2021).

  • Meyer, Birgit and Peter van der Veer (ed.), Refugees and Religion: Ethnographic Studies of Global Trajectories (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2021) [extracts].

  • Siegelberg, Mira, Statelessness. A Modern History (Cambridge, Massachusetts/London, England: Harvard University Press, 2020).


Courses offered at Leiden University College (LUC) are usually only open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Leiden University students who participate in one of the university’s Honours tracks or programmes may register for one LUC course, if availability permits. Registration is coordinated by the Education Coordinator,