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Advanced Heritage and Museum Studies 1


Admission requirements

Admission to the Research Master Archaeology programme or to the conditional RMA Archaeology track.


This course deals with the theoretical, methodological and ethical challenges of studying and representing the heritage of local, descendant communities and/or indigenous peoples (known in heritage and museum studies’ literature as “source” communities) in ways that answer productively to global contemporary concerns.
We will critically examine the lingering effects of colonialism and racism in the way indigenous and other peoples’ heritages have been (and continue to be) represented, valued and discussed in academic writing, as well as in popular media and arts.
We will also discuss the cultural re-appropriations and collaborative strategies that indigenous and non-indigenous scholars lead in different parts of the world to work out contentious heritage issues in systematic, respectful and creative ways.

With the emergence of indigenous and grassroots movements that aspire to participate in the study and management of heritage, scholars need to be more conscious about their ethical responsibility towards the owners of the tangible and intangible heritage they aim to investigate and preserve. There are diverse ways through which non-descendant heritage researchers can undertake these projects.
Thus, the course aims to offer a space to reflect on ethical, collaborative research, and the challenges of representing heritage in (analogue and digital) media and museums, by looking at strategies followed in the fields of community and indigenous archaeologies, visual anthropology, intercultural education and museum decolonising practice. It offers a chance to reflect theoretically about these issues and, at the same time, to contribute to the practical design of research, writing, communication and curation of heritage.

Although a great emphasis will be put on examples from the Americas, the scope of the seminar is global and comparative: course literature and examples are cross-culturally applicable.

Course objectives

  • To develop a complex, multi-disciplinary and critical understanding of the academic and methodological debates concerning indigenous peoples and other descendant communities involved in heritage research and management (archaeology, linguistics, heritage, history, anthropology);

  • To encourage engagement with the multiple perspectives, as well as the intellectual and practical challenges involved in representing material and cultural heritage through written, oral, audio-visual and curatorial (museological) media;

  • To raise awareness of the ethical responsibilities a researcher of other peoples’ material and cultural heritage should observe in the development of their investigations;

  • To interrogate different ways of transmitting knowledge and communicating research results, keeping in mind the possibilities and challenges that this epistemic diversity bears for inter-cultural communication and dialogue;

  • To sharpen skills on critical discourse analysis of both written and audio-visual texts (ie. films, TV programmes or online videos), by identifying, summarising and assessing their key propositions and arguments;

  • To improve the skills to write an academic paper, with critical assessment of the relevant literature and available data;

  • To analyse the challenges and pitfalls of cross-cultural communication in contested landscapes;

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

  • To be able to encourage and conduct stimulating discussions as well as to give feedback to other students.


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

Mode of instruction

  • Seminars and discussion groups;

  • Lectures;

  • Film screenings and discussions.

Course load

The course load will be distributed as follows:

  • 14 x 2 hours of lectures and seminars (2 ec);

  • 3 film screenings x 2 hours (optional);

  • Literature and written assignments (2 ec);

  • 1 essay of max. 2,000 words. (1 ec).

Assessment method

  • Participation and discussion in seminars (20%);

  • Critical literature review; shown through written assignments or alternative media projects (40%);

  • Final essay (40%)

Only the final essay can be retaken.

All exam dates (exams, re-sits, paper deadlines etc.) can be found in the RMA and RMSc examination schedule.

Reading list

  • Tuhiwai Smith, L. 2012. Selected chapters of Decolonizing Methodologies (2nd edition). London & New York: Zed Books;

  • Colwell, C. 2016. "Collaborative Archaeologies and Descendant Communities" in: Annual Review of Anthropology 45, 113–27;

  • Ormond Parker, L. 2005. “Indigenous Peoples’ Rights to their Cultural Heritage” in: Public Archaeology 4:127–140;

  • Nicholas, George P. et al. 2011. “A Consideration of Theory, Principles and Practice in Collaborative Archaeology” in: Archaeological Review from Cambridge 26(2), 11–30;

  • Lidchi, H. 2013 [1997]. “The Poetics and the Politics of Exhibiting Other Cultures” in: Hall, Evans & Nixon (eds), Representation: Cultural Representations and Signifying Practices (2nd edition). London: Sage Publications, 120–192.


  • Rozental and Lerner (2013). The Absent Stone (La Piedra Ausente). FOPROCINE, INAH, The American Egypt. 82 minutes;

  • Other films to be added later.


Registration via uSis is mandatory.

  • The Administration Office will register all BA1 students for their tutorials (not lectures; register via uSis!).

  • BA2, BA3, MA/MSc and RMA/RMSc students are required to register for all lectures and tutorials well in time.

  • The Administration Office registers all students for their exams, students are not required to do this in uSis.

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. (Genner) Llanes Ortiz.


Compulsory attendance.