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Communicating Communities (second year)


Compulsory attendance



This seminar is situated at the heart of ongoing research in the department. RMA students as well as PhD candidates work on their theses in focused groups, formed according to region (or theme), and receive specialized instruction in tutorials focusing either on the Caribbean/Amazonian region or on Mesoamerica. Students with another regional specialization follow one of these two thesis tutorials, and organize additional meetings with relevant regional specialists at Leiden University or abroad. For general topics these groups may be combined in common sessions. Students identify and evaluate the most important publications, especially relevant articles in recent issues of leading journals, and write a review of a monograph that is crucial for their thesis research.

In their first year RMA-students are required to draft a formal research proposal (in NWO format), formulating research questions, theoretical framework and methodology, after which they prepare and realize a small-scale research project. In the second year RMA students give detailed presentations on the progress of their research and on their theoretical reflections. Needless to say, RMA-students are expected to attend all guest lectures of the specialization programme (to be announced during the year). In addition, RMA-students attend in the first year an important international symposium, workshop or congress, to be selected in consultation with their thesis supervisor. Students are required to prepare the meeting with a paper on the issues and previous work of some speakers, to be complemented after attending the meeting with a summary evaluation. In the second year they are expected to present a paper or poster on their thesis research at such an international meeting or to submit an article to an international journal.

Mode of delivery

Seminar with student’s reports, commenting on the structure of research and thesis, with analytic discussion of recent publications.

Course objectives

  • Knowledge of the state of the art regarding the region and discipline of thesis research.

  • Formulation of a research topic in the framework of modern scholarly discussions.

  • Exercising analytical and library research skills.

  • Preparation and elaboration of the thesis project exercising skills of oral presentation, discussion and writing.

  • Ability to draft a research proposal and plan concrete fieldwork and other research activities.


  • Active participation in discussions;

  • Analytical presentation of recent literature related to the topic of the thesis, papers on congress attendance as well as a research proposal (year 1) and a presentation of the thesis research results to an international forum (year 2).

Reading list

Publications selected by the students themselves (library and internet search).

Time schedule

Course schedule details can be found in the RMA time schedule