Due to the Corona virus education methods or examination can deviate. For the latest news please check the course page in Brightspace.


nl en

Politics of Identity and Difference: Collective Agency




Admission Requirements

The usual prerequisite for this course is any 200-level LUC course in World Politics, Human Interaction, or Political Arts, but students who wish to enroll on the strength of another background in social movements, identity politics, and theories of revolution should contact the course instructor before course allocation.


As we make our first strides into the twenty-first century, we encounter a diversification and diffusion of claims to and calls for identity and difference—the multiplication of understandings and practices of power, domination, oppression, resistance, and violence offer fertile and fascinating ground for collective agency with individual, local, national, transnational, and global resonance. This course invites us to engage with past, present, and future trajectories of social movements: be they demonstrations, protests, or revolutions. Starting from Hannah Arendt’s radical re-definition of power as action in concert, we will investigate collective agency through solidarity and separatist movements, as well as through struggles for recognition and peace to those against exploitation and globalisation. Attuned to the complexity of social construction and political efficacy, our whirlwind adventure through some of the most controversial and definitive protests in recent political history will constantly return to questions of identity and difference in any collective action.

Course Objectives

By the end this course, we should expect to achieve:

  • a clear understanding of the theoretical debates about social movements;

  • a good grasp of the methods used to study revolutions and social movements;

  • at least a cursory knowledge of various historical and contemporary revolutions and social movements;

  • a keen awareness of the diverse instruments used and strategies deployed in claims to and calls for identity and difference;

  • a critical capacity for the analysis of collective agency in protests and demonstrations of any scale; and

  • a demonstrable ability to conduct and present independent research for short-term assignments and longer-term projects alike.

Mode of Instruction

Seminars (two 2-hour sessions per week, Weeks 1 – 7) will form the main body of this course, and a blackboard site will support our in-class discussion. From Week 2 Session 1 to Week 7 Session 1, each seminar will be student-led, with support from the instructor (see “Assessment”), to practise and exemplify the learning responsibilities of a 300-level course. Do check our course site regularly for up-to-date reading assignments, multi-media material, and announcements. For further details of how the course will proceed, see sections below on “Assessment” and “Weekly overview”.


In-class participation: 20%
Ongoing assessment of your individual engagement with the course material and with the thoughts of your peers throughout the course.

Seminar leadership: 20%
Assessment of your ability to structure the assigned material for a particular session, identify and prioritise the aims and conclusions of that session, present the material and independent research pertaining to that material coherently and cohesively, raise pertinent discussion points, and orient the discussion towards meeting the course objectives, through (dependent on class size) individual or group leadership of one entire seminar from Weeks 2 (Session 1) – 7 (Session 1), as supported by the instructor in the prior planning and actual running of that seminar. The student(s) leading a particular seminar is exempt from the post due for that seminar (see below).

Posts on current social movements: 20%
Continuous assessment of the progress of your understanding of the concepts covered in the course, as well as your alertness to and analysis of current social movements, be they local, national, transnational, or global, through concise web-posts of around 150 words each, one due per Weeks 2 (Session 1) – 7 (Session 1), except the session when you are leading seminar discussion. You will be graded on this cumulative portfolio of around 1500 words over this period.

Research essay: 40%
Final assessment of your analysis, articulation, and appreciation of the course themes, including your incorporation of formative feedback from Weeks 1 – 7, through a research essay of 2500 – 3000 words due at the end Week 8. An essay proposal of 250 words is due by the final seminar in Week 7.


There is no set textbook for the course. Assigned readings will be made available on BlackBoard, but students should expect to conduct regular independent research throughout this 300-level course.

Contact Information

Dr. Cissie Fu at [c.fu@luc.leidenuniv.nl].

Weekly Overview

Week 1, Seminar 1 – What’s in a play?: Identity and difference in musical and political revolutions
Week 1, Seminar 2 – Social movement theory: Comparative frameworks and disparate analyses
Week 2, Seminar 1 – Fighting for Solidarity: Prague Spring and Velvet Revolution
Week 2, Seminar 2 – Fighting for Solidarity: International Solidarity Movement
Week 3, Seminar 1 – Fighting for Secession: The Quebec Sovereignty Movement
Week 3, Seminar 2 – Fighting for Secession: The Basque Separatist Movement
Week 4, Seminar 1 – Fighting for Recognition: The Gay Rights Movement
Week 4, Seminar 2 – Fighting for Recognition: The Fathers’ Rights Movement
Week 5, Seminar 1 – Fighting for Peace: Anti-War Protests
Week 5, Seminar 2 – Fighting for Peace: Greenpeace and Anti-Nuclear Protests
Week 6, Seminar 1 – Fighting for Voice: Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo
Week 6, Seminar 2 – Fighting for Voice: The Tiananmen Square Protests
Week 7, Seminar 1 – Fighting against Globalisation: Seattle WTO Protests
Week 7, Seminar 2 – What’s with us?: Student movements and youth activism
Week 8 – [no classes]

Preparation for first session

Please read Rock ‘n’ Roll by Tom Stoppard. If you have trouble locating the text, please e-mail the instructor in good time.