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Displacement and Development: Anthropological Perspectives on South Asia


Admission requirements

The following categories of students may register for this course:

  • Students enrolled for enrolled for BSc “Culturele antropologie en ontwikkelingssociologie” at Leiden University, including the pre-master students of CA-DS

  • Students enrolled for BA "South and Southeast Asian Studies" of the Faculty of Humanities of Leiden University

  • Students in other programmes of LU for who this is an optional course, for example BA International Studies

  • Erasmus Exchange students and Study Abroad students who have been explicitly admitted to this course

  • Contract-students

See below the actual registration procedure per category.

Language of Instruction

Lectures are taught in English.
Examination (assignments and written exam) will be held in English.


The course brings together theories, histories, ethnographies and narratives that address questions of displacement and development in South Asia from anthropological and sociological perspectives. The countries of the South Asian subcontinent, which include India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan and the Maldives, share a common cultural realm and history. The end of British rule in 1947 resulted in wholesale displacement of people as borders were set up between the new states. Since that time those borders, often based on arbitrary religious or ethnic demarcations, have triggered violence and contest, all the while invoking cultural memories that have both questioned and legitimized the political rationales of the new nation-states. South Asian borderlands are therefore increasingly controlled and policed, while being subjected to neo-liberal development as tools of nationalist consolidation. South Asia is home to a growing and increasingly wealthy urban middle class, but paradoxically continues to witness some of the world’s most abject poverty. While influential social movements demand equality and social justice, there remain pervasive perceptions of essential inequalities among people across religious, regional, caste or ethnic divisions, as well as between genders. This course will address the paradoxes of displacement and development, using combinations of texts and visual and audio-visual resources. Regionally the focus will be on developments in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, including their borderlands and transnational linkages.

Course objectives

At the end of this course students will be able to:

  • Distil key arguments in seminal historical and anthropological literature on the theme of the seminar

  • Engage with primary sources – textual and audio/visual – and make connections between multiple sources

  • Write critical reflections on material presented in class, including weekly assignments, an examination, and a paper.

  • Make presentations that combine projects with primary sources and secondary literature

  • Connect current perspectives from anthropology and sociology on South Asia within wider transnational concepts, methods and material on the seminar theme.

  • Conduct research on the course topic of ‘displacement and development’. To do so students will draw on key arguments and concepts presented in class to select a relevant case study of choice, locating relevant resources on the selected case study to write a final paper on the topic.

  • Demonstrate analytical skill and creativity.

  • For the paper and assignments, discuss compulsory readings in class related to relevant (external) resources on the selected topic.

  • In the examination, students will be required not only to reproduce concepts and arguments put forward in the course literature but also analyse a new source on the basis of their acquired knowledge.

Time table

Time tables including the Usis activity-codes needed for enrollment can be found on our website - please look under "2e Jaar, Semester 2, Hoorcolleges".

Mode of instruction

Attendance and participation are required for all sessions of the course. Being absent without notification can result in a lower grade or even a failing grade for the course.

Course Load

Total course load for the course:
10 ECTS (280 study hours/sbu) or 5 ECTS (140 study hours/sbu).
The 5 EC version is only available to SSEA students.

For the 10 EC version th estudy load is as follows:

  • Contact hours in class, 12 × 3: 54 sbu

  • Weekly assignments: 12 sbu

  • Readings and exam, 888 pages: 148 sbu

  • Final paper, 5000 words: 66 sbu

For the 5 EC version, please see the course syllabus on Blackboard.

Assesment method

Assessment: Weekly assignments and class participation, Final exam AND essay (5.000 words)
Weighing: Weekly assignments and class participation: 20%, Exam: 40%, Final essay: 40%
Resit: The date for the resit of the exam, and for the redo’s of the paper, will be announced during the course.
Exam review: How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results (in BB) at the latest.

Registering for exam

All participants are required to register in uSis for the final exam and re-sit and may do so up to 11 calendar days before the examination. Read more.

Study material

To be announced through Blackboard.


Blackboard module will be active.
Students granted admission must enrol for this course on Blackboard.

Registration in Usis

  • Registration in Usis is obligatory for all bachelor students, via de Usis code 6492DDSA1H. Please consult the course registration website for information on registration periods and further instructions.

  • Exchange students officially admitted to this course during the admission procedure will be registered in Usis by faculty’s administration.

  • Those interested in following this course as a contract student should apply following the procedure described on the website of the Faculty of Social Sciences (in Dutch).

Contact information

Dr. Radhika Gupta Dr. Erik de Maaker