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Cultural Interaction: Conflict and Cooperation


Admission requirements

This course is only available for students in the BA International Studies programme.
Limited places are also open for exchange students.
Please note: this course takes place in The Hague. Traveling between University buildings from Leiden to The Hague may take about 45 minutes.


Following the first year course “Cultural Studies”, this course takes a micro and a macro approach to interaction between people, cultural artefacts and cultural groups. It is divided in two blocks of six lectures each, Block 1: Cultural Realms; and Block 2: Cultural Selves.

Block 1: Cultural Realms focuses on conflict and cooperation within and between cultural contexts. Week 1 will discuss why culture is often a matter of life and death, and why culture is something you “do” and “feel” rather than something you “have” and “know”. From week 2 onward, we will start defining culture in spatial, networked ways, by (re-)interpreting it per week in relation to a different realm: the nation-state (week 2); worlds (week 3); society (week 4); civilization (week 5); community (Week 6). Each of these realms delineates an interaction between culture and politics, economics, and religion.

The central question of this block is: how and why do humans organize themselves culturally?

Block 2: Cultural Selves focuses on conflict and cooperation between individuals and collectives. We will first focus on questions of Selfhood (week 7), Otherness (week 8), and (mis)communication(s) between Self and Other (week 9). The last three weeks focus on Selfhood and Otherness as constructed between abled and disabled bodies (week 10), between humans and animals (week 11), and finally between humans and machines (week 12).

The central question of this block is: how and why do people define their cultural identity with, against, or at the cost of, others?


Students are obliged to read short weekly readings (on average 7 pages per week). The lecturer will use each first half of the lectures (45-60 minutes) to elaborate on the theories presented in the readings, by applying them to concrete case studies.

Students will be encouraged to post questions/responses throughout the lecture via Wooclap made available at the beginning of each session. The lecturer will use the second half of each lecture (30-45 minutes) to answer these questions and relate to these responses in conversation with students.

Course objectives

The goal of this course is to provide students with the theoretical background to account for: 1.) the ways in which culture is used to shape worlds and world views; 2.) the the differences, conflicts and productive ways in which cultures may interact.

More specifically, students will:

  • Be able to assess the role of culture in the dynamics between politics, economics, and religion, in relation to global and local histories;

  • Be able to respect cultural differences and interactions in terms of complex forms of understanding, of translation, or fundamental misunderstanding;

  • Gain insight into how sociocultural interpretations are constructed through and during interaction;

  • Learn to apply the theories and methods discussed in the course to analyze communicative, narrative and visual productions from regions of their choice.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction


Lectures are held every week, with the exception of the midterm exam week. Weekly lectures will cover issues both inside and outside the readings.


Tutorials are held once every three weeks, with the exception of the midterm exam week. Attending all tutorial sessions is compulsory. If you are unable to attend a session, please inform your Tutorial-lecturer in advance. Being absent at more than one of the tutorial sessions will result in a lowering of your tutorial grade (40% of the end grade) with 1 point for each session missed after the first session. Please note that being absent at any tutorial session may have a negative impact on the grade of the assignment due for that particular tutorial session. This is at the discretion of the Tutorial-lecturer.

Assessment method


  • Presentation:
    Poster presentation during the tutorial.

  • Midterm:
    Diagnostic test (voluntary, non-graded).

  • Final Exam:
    Written examination with essay questions.


Partial grade Weighing
Tutorials 40%
Final Exam 60%

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 Tutorial grade and Final Exam grade.

  • The Final Exam grade needs to be 5.5 or higher.

  • This means that failing Exam grades cannot be compensated with a high Tutorial grade.


If the end grade is insufficient (lower than a 6.0), or the Final Exam grade is lower than 5.5, there is a possibility of retaking the full 60% of the exam material, replacing the Final Exam grade. No resit for the tutorial is possible.
Please note that if the Resit Exam grade is lower than 5.5, you will not pass the course, regardless of the tutorial grade.

Retaking a passing grade

Please consult the Course and Examination Regulations 2023 – 2024.

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

Please purchase:

  • Frans-Willem Korsten, Cultural Interactions: Conflict and Cooperation, Amsterdam University Press, 2022.

We read this book in its entirety for this course. There are no additional readings.


General information about course and exam enrolment is available on the website.

Registration Exchange

For the registration of exchange students contact Humanities International Office.



All other information.