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Advanced studies in heritage of indigenous peoples 1


Admission requirements

Bachelor’s degree in Archaeology, Linguistics, Latin America Studies, or other relevant discipline.


Contemporary indigenous worldviews, ritual practices, visual art and oral traditions have generally a strong connection with the magnificent ancient cultures of the region, just like contemporary indigenous languages and literatures are a direct continuation of the pre-colonial past.
This resilient heritage inserts in current and complex economic, political and social relations, where the values and needs of peoples must be brought to the forefront of debate.

This interdisciplinary seminar analyses the cultural and linguistic heritage of indigenous peoples within the present-day social context. It focuses on indigenous knowledge, religion and ontology by studying the linguistic and cultural landscapes (including art, memory, narratives, rituals, social organisation etc.) in the context of the global discussions on and by indigenous peoples.
Meaning and representation are central issues, which bring us to consider the importance of space and landscape, symbolism and metaphor, as well as the ontological basis of epistemologies and semantic domains.
Archaeological, historical, linguistic and anthropological approaches will be combined with decolonial theories and methods, in order to contribute to the recognition and protection of peoples’ heritage and rights.

In general we will deconstruct the colonised and colonising discourses on indigenous peoples as found in current western paradigms in order to formulate together with indigenous peoples an innovative empowering research praxis that can contribute to the formation of more inclusive societies and that will simultaneously push the boundaries of academic inquiry.

The seminar lays the basis for ethnographic and linguistic fieldwork as well as heritage research in/with indigenous communities. Accordingly it pays attention to participatory methodologies as well as to ethical considerations.
The regional expertise of the staff concerns Mesoamerica, greater Amazonia and Africa, but the scope of the seminar is global and comparative: course literature and examples are cross-culturally applicable.

Course objectives

  • Acquisition of up-to-date knowledge on the research and debates in different disciplines concerning indigenous peoples (archaeology, linguistics, heritage, history, anthropology);

  • Understanding of the meaning and role of narratives and cultural landscapes from the perspective of indigenous ontologies. To acquire knowledge of and critically evaluate the role of ontologies and epistemologies of indigenous peoples in human rights, social conflicts and land rights discourses in cross-cultural perspective;

  • Sharpening skills on critical and close reading. Improved ability to critically summarise and analyse articles (define author’s key-arguments, pros and cons of the author’s opinion, etc.) through small written texts and oral speech;

  • Improving the skills to write a paper on a specific research topic, with critical assessment of the literature, making use of the relevant literature and available data;

  • Ability to choose and examine relevant literature and present this via a PowerPoint presentation, poster or a video presentation.

For RMA-students, in addition to the above:

  • Ability to understand and analyse the challenges and pitfalls of cross-cultural communication in contested landscapes;

  • Ability to plan original research in/with indigenous communities with the support of innovative theoretical reflections and participatory / decolonising methodologies;

  • Ability to trigger and handle stimulating discussion as well as to give feedback to other students.


Course schedule details can be found in the RMA time schedule.

Mode of instruction

Seminar with active discussions and critical analysis of the literature.

Course load

Each semester consists of:

  • 14×2 hours of lectures;

  • Literature and assignment;

  • 1 essay of max. 2,000 words.

Assessment method

Parts 1 and 2 will be assessed separately.

  • Participation and discussion (40%);

  • Critical literature review (20%);

  • Essays (40%) (1 essay for part 1 and 1 essay for part 2)

All assessment deadlines (exams, retakes, paper deadlines etc.) can be found in the examination schedule.

Reading list

Literature will be made known at the beginning of the course.


Registration for the course is not necessary, registration for the exam is mandatory. For instructions, see the Registration in uSis page.

Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Prospective students website for information on how to apply.

Registration ‘Contractonderwijs’

All information (costs, registration, entry requirements, etc.) for those who are interested in taking this course as a Contractstudent is on the Contractonderwijs Archeologie webpage (in Dutch).


For more information about this course, please contact dr. G.D.J. Llanes Ortiz or mw. dr. A. Rojas Martinez Gracida.


Compulsory attendance.