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Introduction to Diversity and Integration




Admission Requirements



What is at stake when we talk about how diverse our current societies are and how we could contribute to further their integration? What do we mean when we say societies are becoming progressively diverse? What is the aim of integration? And most importantly, why do we bother about it? This course will tackle these questions by examining the underpinning assumptions of social life in contemporary multicultural and multiethnic societies. In order to exist, diversity and integration are two categories that presuppose an existing unity. But, what is the character of this “unity” in academic, public opinion and everyday discourses? What does “unity” mean? From a cross-disciplinary perspective we will think about how a sense of unity is socially, politically and scientifically produced, and we will examine the premises under which it is assumed to be threatened by globalization and multicultural trends. We will start by posing the problem of unity using the assassination of Theo van Gogh in 2004 as a case study. From there on, the course will develop addressing the following themes in weekly units: identity and community; community and society; society and nation-state; nation-state and culture; culture and nature; nature and the production of knowledge; knowledge production and back to the question of identity. By the end of the course the students are expected to be able to identify how questions of diversity and integration are shaped from various perspectives in academic and lay discourses, with a persistent reference to a mythical pre-existing unity; a unity that is undoubtedly questioned by the increasingly complex character of modern societies.

Course Objectives

This course aims to provide students with an overview of the main themes involved in debates related to questions of diversity and integration. It does so by means of examining and framing different ideas of unity underpinning the ways in which each of us relates to others and to the world around us. The aim is to develop in students an ability to critically disclose these assumptions of unity in order to face the challenges that diversity and integration imply for the twenty-first century.

By the end of the course, students should have attained:

  • a cross-disciplinary understanding of the problems at stake when addressing questions of diversity and integration;

  • a clear grasp of key concepts and theories at stake when discussing globalization and multiculturalism in current societies;

  • the ability to examine, question and take positions regarding crucial aspects of prevailing criteria regarding what is defined as normal, as well as the politics of integration and difference.

Mode of Instruction

  • Continuous and active participation is fundamental for this course. It is your course, which means it requires the work of all to produce an exciting and inspiring learning community. Before each class each student will provide one question that aims to link the readings with daily-life issues and that will be addressed and discussed during that session.

  • Biweekly seminars form the main body of this course. The structure of the seminars is based on mini-lectures (30-45 minutes), student presentations of the readings (30 min) and debates (30 minutes). This ensures the introduction of knowledge and materials and the ongoing test of students’ understanding of this knowledge through discussions, constructive criticism and debates.

  • Audiovisual media will be used regularly to ensure exposure to diverse resources, forms of knowledge and types of evidence.

  • Students will prepare for seminars by completing the assigned readings that will be available through the Blackboard site. In addition, each student will need to complete one weekly reading note based on his/her reflections on the readings and the themes informing each weeks’ sessions.


Assessment: In-class participation and group presentation of the readings
Percentage: 20%
Deadline: Ongoing Weeks 1 – 7

Assessment: Individual – One question per session to feed the debate
Percentage: 15% (2.5% each)
Deadline: Weeks 2 – 7 (submitted on the day of each session by 11:00 am)

Assessment: Individual – Weekly reading notes (350 – 500 words)
Percentage: 30% (5% each)
Deadline: Weeks 2 – 7 (submitted on Fridays by 17:00 pm)

Assessment: Individual – Final essay (3000 words)
Percentage: 35%
Deadline: Week 8 (Friday 19th October)


A reader for the course will be compiled and will be electronically available in Blackboard site before the beginning of the course. Students are expected to use the readings as tools during their participation in class, the elaboration of each session question and their reading notes.

The following book will directly inform the first and second week sessions:
Ron Eyerman (2008) The assassination of Theo Van Gogh, Durham: Duke University Press.

Contact Information

For further information please contact Dr. Daniela Vicherat Mattar at: d.a.vicherat.mattar@luc.leidenuniv.nl

Weekly Overview

WEEK 1 – Fundamentalisms or foundations? What is at stake when we talk about D&I
WEEK 2 – Identity and the question of community
WEEK 3 – Community and the question of society
WEEK 4 – Society and the question of the nation-state
WEEK 5 – Nation-states and the question of culture
WEEK 6 – Culture and the question of nature
WEEK 7 – Nature, the production of knowledge and why the question of identity matters
WEEK 8 – Reading Week

Preparation for first session

G. Bateson (2000) “Methalogue: What do things get in a muddle?” in Steps to an Ecology of Mind, The University of Chicago Press, pages: 21-25.


D. Gregory (2004) “Architectures of Enmity” in The Colonial Present, Blackewell, pages 17-29.

Students are requested to reflect upon their own understanding of what the ideas of unity, diversity and integration entail. In the first session those ideas will be discussed and framed in the light of the course objectives.