nl en

Patterns of Power


Admission requirements

Free and compulsory for students enrolled in the RESMAAS program. Those from other MA programs may be admitted with prior registration (contact coordinator)


This specialisation concerns the way in which people in Africa have developed ideas and mechanisms of power over time. Sometimes this has taken forms that Europeans can recognise as states, such as in the great empires of medieval Africa. At other times, power has been exercised through relations of kinship, dependency and slavery. Since the 19th century it has also been organised through bureaucracies originally introduced by Europeans: it is a point of debate whether and how colonial types of administration actually came to assimilate older indigenous techniques of domination, or whether the reverse has taken place. Thus the historical roots of some current crises will be investigated.

Course objectives

On the basis of a thorough overview of recent debates and the current state of the study in this specialized field, students build up their own thematic specialization allowing them to prepare and formulate their future research project to be carried out in the third semester. The course prepares the students for the writing of his or her research proposal.


Schedule: Mondays 12:30-14:30 and Thursdays: 11:00-13:00

Mode of instruction

The course runs for three months, from January until March, consisting of three modules of four weekly blocks. A block consists of a presentation by one or more lecturers on the Monday (two hours) after which precise assignments are handed out to students who have the time to work on them for two days before the workshop meetings (11.00-13.00) on Thursday. They will draft a text of about three pages that serves as an aide-memoir for their presentation.On Friday, they prepare for the meeting on Monday. Compulsory reading: ~150 pages per week, supplemented with recommended reading to be used for drafting the final paper and the preparation for the individual research project.
In conjunction to the course students will work on their research proposal and at the end of the track they will draft the theoretical and methodological propositions of their research projects. The course ends with presentations of the draft of the research proposal to a team of senior researchers..

Assessment method

Weekly assignments, paper and draft of the research proposal


Available for registered students.

Reading list

Provided on the first meeting of class and posted on Blackboard


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

Contact information

Dr. Azeb Amha
Academic Coordinator
P O Box 9555, 2300 RB Leiden, NL
Tel. +31-71-527-3364