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Advanced Themes in Archaeology


Advanced themes in archaeology: A worldwide archaeological and anthropological perspective on colonialism, decolonisation, globalisation

Admission requirements

Admission to the Research Master Archaeology programme.


European expansion into the non-Western world at the end of the 15th century represents a landmark in global history. The colonisation of the Americas is one of the most transfigurative and infamous episodes in world history, as native societies were suddenly and dramatically transformed.

Indigenous people responded to the colonial invasion in various ways and attempted to negotiate, sometimes successfully, interactions with Europe. Yet indigenous voices often remain marginalised in colonial and post-colonial historiographies, overwritten by narratives of conquest and hegemony.
The archaeological record is perfectly suited to provide novel insights into these infamous histories by uncovering the indigenous perspectives hitherto biased by still dominant Eurocentric viewpoints and narratives.

While focusing on the Americas, this thematic course also looks at the deep histories of (West) Africa, and SE Asia/the Pacific, where similar processes of exploitation, domination and neglect have taken place. It explores comparative trans-disciplinary approaches that allow the construction of bigger pictures, using a variety of methodologies and techniques, and emphasising the archaeological data critically juxtaposed with documentary and oral sources.
In this perspective, the course also discusses transformative processes related to colonialism that involved Europe, the Mediterranean, and the Near East. The study of hitherto undisclosed indigenous histories can contribute to a more nuanced understanding of the roles of the past in the present, and can reach multiple and perhaps competing stakeholders at local, regional, pan-regional, and global scales.

Set-up of the course

Each 2-hour class is composed of a lecture and is followed by an in-class discussion and/or presentations. Lectures are arranged according to the spatial frames and related to the leading themes of this year’s theme of the course. After an introduction of the theme by the course coordinators, case studies from several world regions will be presented by experts.

2 readings are assigned on a weekly basis and serve as a backdrop for the in-class discussion.
Some parameters of written assignments will be agreed between the course coordinators and the students in the second part of the course (e.g., themes, delivery deadlines, criteria of evaluation, etc.).

Course objectives

  • Knowledge of the recent debates concerning the many facets of this year’s theme, i.e. a worldwide archaeological and anthropological perspective on colonialism, decolonisation, and globalisation;

  • Ability to evaluate and discuss the lectures’ content, the relevant literature, and the many facets of this year’s theme;

  • Ability to present one’s view in in-class discussions and presentations;

  • Ability to write and critically evaluate one's colleague’s writing;

  • Ability to better understand the multifarious roles of material culture in the interdisciplinary (re)constructions of the past.


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

Mode of instruction

  • Interactive lectures;

  • Class discussions on the basis of assigned articles;

  • 2 in-class presentations on assigned readings and a peer-review presentation on an article written by a colleague.

Course load

The course load will be distributed as follows:

  • 7×2 hours of lectures (1 ec);

  • 280 pages of literature (2 ec);

  • Assignments (2 ec).

Assessment method

  • 1,000-word essay formatted as a (publishable) scholarly article (50%);

  • Peer review of a colleague’s article (20%);

  • 2 presentations: one related to the assigned article and the second when the student is acting as a peer reviewer of a colleague’s article (20%);

  • In-class discussion (10%).

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

Reading list

To be published on BlackBoard.


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.


For more information about this course, please contact prof. dr. C.L. (Corinne) Hofman.


Compulsory attendance.