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Rural Development


Admission requirements

Only the following categories of students can register for this course:

  • Students enrolled for the BA programme “Culturele antropologie en ontwikkelingssociologie” at Leiden University who have passed the Propedeuse

  • Exchange and Study Abroad students
    Please see below a description of the registration procedure.


The course focuses on various aspects of rural life in relation to ‘development’, ‘sustainable development’, ‘modernization’ and aid programmes and projects, in a globalised world. We thereby no longer spatially divide the world in so called ‘developed’ and ‘underdeveloped’ countries. World food production, food prices, trade agreements on food products and the like are all intrinsically interlinked. We will explore the position, role and significance of the peasantry particularly of the agribusiness and food industries. As van der Ploeg in his book and Brysceson in her article demonstrate, the peasantries of this world are far from waning. Also industrialized and developing countries are witnessing complex and richly chequered processes of ‘repeazantization’.

Course Objectives

In this context we will also discuss the World Bank’ s program on Sustainable Land Management and Agriculture and Poverty Reduction and compare their views with a more critical analyses from an Aid consultant, Sivini, who considers the international aid market as its own market. He is of opinion that government and aid programmes often stimulate resistance from the local population, as agencies upset their usual system of production. However the rural poor, peasants and nomads, may also find ways to improve their ways of life. The local level, autonomy, an independent timing and the centrality of the own productive forces are thereby crucial. By the end of the course students need to be able to analyze how the world (food) market functions. We hope to be able to not only discuss the contemporary social problems and opportunities associated with rural economies and politics but we will also look at a methodological tool (Most significant change analysis (MSC) accompanied by a film), (if guestspeaker can be arranged: Logical framework analysis (LFA) or Outcome Mapping. that is used within development programs to model what various (development) programs intend to do within different logic and responsibility systems.


  • Lectures: Wednesdays 5 September to 14 November 2012, 10-13 h (no lecture on 3 October)
    Location: Pieter de la Court Building, Wassenaarseweg 52, Leiden
    Room 5A42 on 5, 12 and 19 September
    Room 1A41 on 26 September
    Room 1A01 on 10 October
    Room 1A27 on 17 October
    Room 5A41 on 24, 31 October and 7 November
    Room 5A29 on 14 November
    Room 5A41 on 21 November

  • Excursion dates will be announced on Blackboard.

  • Exam: Wednesday 12 December 2012, 12-15 h, room SC01, Pieter de la Court building

  • Re-take: Wednesday 30 January 2013. 9-12 h, room 1A15, Pieter de la Court building

Mode of instruction

Total of 10 ECTS = 280 study hours (sbu)

  • Lectures 10 × 2 h (30 sbu)

  • Ethnographic exercises (practica) 5 × 1 h (5 sbu)

  • Group discussions 5 × 1 h (10 sbu)

  • Literature 930 pp (155 sbu)

  • Paper 6000 words = 10 pp (80 sbu)

Assesment method

  • Assignments (AQCI’s) (10%)

  • Presentations (25%)

  • Active student participation in discussions is expected (10%)

  • Final exam (needs to be sufficient, that is 6 or more) (40%)

  • Presence at lectures (minimum 9 out of 10 meetings)

  • Excursion (Dutch Green Heart) (10%)

  • Articles in the media (5%)


Blackboard module will be active from mid August 2012.
Students who have been granted admission must register for this course on Blackboard.

Reading list

  • Sivini, Giordano (2007) Resistance to Modernization in Africa. Journey among Peasants and Nomads. New Brunswick (USA) and London (UK): Transaction Publishers. (pp. 228)

  • The World Bank (2006). Sustainable Land Management :Challenges, Opportunities, and Trade-Offs. Washinton D.C. The World Bank. (pp 82)

  • Brysceson, Deborah Fahy (2000) ‘ Peasant Theories and Smallholder Policies: Past and Present’ in Disappearing Peasantries? Rural Labour in Africa, Asia and Latin America. London: Intermediate Technology Publications: 1-37. (pp 37 )

  • Ploeg, Jan Douwe van der (2008). The New Peasantries, Struggles for Autonomy and Sustainability in an Era of Empire and Globalization . London: Earthscan (300)

  • Sweetman, Caroline (1999). Women, Land and Agriculture.Oxford: Oxfam. Can be ordered online

  • Most significant change analysis (MSC

  • Student(s) who make presentations read another 50 – 75 pages of their choice related to the topic they will present.

  • Literature for the Excursion Green Heart (available in Blackboard’s Course Documents)


  • Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply for the exchange programme.
    Only those exchange students whose admission to this particular course has already been approved, need to register for this course in Usis and on Blackboard.

  • BA studenten CA-OS van Universiteit Leiden:
    Inschrijving geschiedt via Usis, alleen voor “hoorcollege HC” en “tentamen TEN”. Bij problemen met Usis-inschrijving, raadpleeg de Usis-helpdesk van de FSW.
    Bij aanhoudende problemen, stuur een mailtje naar met het verzoek om je op de deelnemerslijst van de themamodule te zetten.

Contact Infromation

Dr. José van Santen 071-527 3497,