nl en

Diversity and Power


Language of instruction for this couse is Dutch.

Admission Requirements

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

  • Students enrolled for the BSc programme “CA-DS” at Leiden University

  • Students enrolled for the Minor CA-OS

  • Pre-master students who have completed their Admission procedure for the master CA-DS and have been formally admitted to this course as part of the pre-master programme.

Please see the registration procedure below.

Course Description

This course aims to introduce students into the anthropology and sociology of diversity. The point of departure of such a course should be the manner in which anthropology has studied differences between human beings over the past two centuries, and the extent to which the humanist principle of equality has determined policies directed at managing such differences. This course therefore directs primary attention to race, culture, nation, class and gender, although we apply these lessons also to religion and ethnicity. The anthropology of diversity starts with the observation that race, class and gender are first and foremost socio-cultural classifications, and that such categories connect power and diversity because they give shape to the infrastructures that make up societies – the division of labor and wealth between different groups of citizens and between social spheres (such as the public, the economy, and the household) in particular. The first part of the course (weeks 15 to 18) deals with the way in which, since the nineteenth century, race and gender have been treated as descriptions of natural and/or biological differences, but also how in the course of the twentieth century (not least because of the introduction of the concept of culture) the interpretation of both race and gender as socio-historical constructions came to compete with such naturalist descriptions. The second part of the course (weeks 20 to 23) will then address the question how classifications of race, gender and class are connected in such ways that determine the shape that power inequalities take between people. Can we and should we modify or even abolish such power differences by means of interventions in terms of affirmative action and the promotion of diversity? What kind of limits and obstacles do such pleas for “decolonization” and reducing discrimination run up against?

Teaching Goals

  • This course teaches students that diversity starts with classifications and categorizations of human differences used in a specific society, and that one needs to distinguish the description and definition of those differences from (the reasons for) their historical construction, and from the effects and relationships produced by social interventions using those categories.

  • This course teaches students by means of the classifications of race and gender how one can study classification, how classification relates to (hierarchical) discrimination, and how examples of race, gender and class can be used to understand (the social effects of) classifications of religion and ethnicity.

  • This course teaches students that the present-day uses of diversity and human difference can only be sufficiently understood by means of the genealogical and reflexive methods of ethnography – that is, the expertise that results from answering the question of which contemporary processes the concept of “diversity” is an expression, and how those processes apply to the situation the researchers find themselves in.

Time Table

Dit vak zal in het blok 4 (april/mei 2018) plaatsvinden, met twee bijeenkomsten per week.
Data en zaalummers zijn te vinden op de website

Methods of Instruction

10 ECTS = 280 studiebelastinguren (sbu)

Lectures (12 x 3 uur = 36 u / 56 sbu)
Study of literature


Students hand in two types of assignments: (1) short summaries of the literature that they have to read for that week; these will be graded by pass/fail. All summaries received a “fail” grade can be redone once, and all summaries have to receive a “pass” grade before the end of the course; (2) Two graded assignments based on questions about the content of the course will determine the final grade of the individual student.

Only the final grade will be registered in Usis.

Exam Registration

Students do not need to register for the exam through uSis because this course does not have one final (classical) exam.


Blackboard module will be active about 2 weeks before the start of the course.
Students who have been granted admission must register for this course on Blackboard. Blackboard.

Study Material

A list of books and articles will be published on Blackboard.


Registration in Usis is obligatory for the lectures (H) for all participants. Please consult the course registration website for information on registration periods and further instructions. Students do not need to register for the exam through uSis because this course does not have one final (classical) exam.


Prof. dr. Peter Pels