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Discipline and Place in the Social Sciences and the Humanities



* All PhD students and Research MA students registered at LeidenGlobal partner institutions may apply, after consultation with their advisors.

* The deadline for application is 12 noon on 5 September 2016. Applicants will hear back by 10 September.

* Admission is at the discretion of the LeidenGlobal executive committee. If student interest exceeds current capacity, admission will have to be capped, and we will try to expand capacity for subsequent editions.

Course objectives

DISCIPLINE AND PLACE is a lecture series offered to PhD and Research MA students at the LeidenGlobal partner institutions in the fall of each year. It offers them an opportunity to reflect on the broader field of the Social Sciences and the Humanities – with this category (SSH, in European parlance) including archaeology and law – and to position their own research accordingly. Students ideally participate early in their training, but applications by students at all stages of their research are welcome. The scope of the series stimulates transregional and transdisciplinary dialogue, in line with developments in scholarship worldwide.
A seminar series entitled MIXED METHODS IN THE SOCIAL SCIENCES AND THE HUMANITIES is offered in the spring term. Completion of the lecture series is recommended for those planning to attend the seminar.


Central questions

The series will travel through many fields of inquiry in the (narrative) social sciences and the humanities. Coherence is ensured by two questions we put to each of the speakers:

  1. What defines today’s field of inquiry?
    1. How does this field relate to realities, representations, and issues of place?

… while bearing in mind the following points:

  • Diversity in approaches to knowledge

  • The situatedness of scholarship, as reflected in things like
    o the history of the field and the questions it asks
    o the trajectory of the individual researcher
    o the nature of the data
    o issues of theory and methodology
    o institutional and socio-cultural contexts, and so on

  • Positionality, i.e. imagining, timing, and placing others and selves

  • Language

  • Translation: interlingual, intercultural, intermedial, interdisciplinary, etc

  • Objects and agency

  • Scholarship and activism

  • Public understandings of scholarship and societal issues, and their interaction.

Where we(?) find ourselves

‘Discipline’ and ‘place’ mean many things to many people. Disciplinarily / thematically defined and regionally defined fields of inquiry are not mutually exclusive or antagonistic, and stand to benefit from interaction. The course does not underwrite any single definition or inventory of disciplines or places, be this linked to particular points in time and space, scholarly method, political persuasions, or other coordinates. Rather, it offers an entry point for a debate on where we (?) find ourselves that retains its relevance today in novel, striking ways.


We will take a tour d’horizon of the (narrative) social sciences and the humanities, without laying claim to completeness: fields and topics vary over the years. In addition to discipline-defined sessions, there will be a special session on comparison, and one on theories, practices, and ideologies of collecting. The phenomenon of comparison is ubiquitous in scholarship, whether implicitly or explicitly so. Collecting is used here as a naïve signifier for the museum world, as a complex amalgamation of multidisciplinary scholarship, translation in its etymologically literal sense of ‘carrying from one place to another,’ intercultural (power) relations, and the meeting of experts and general audiences.

Introduction (Willemijn Waal)

  • Session 1 19 September
    Antropology (Erik Bähre)

  • Session 2 22 September
    Archaeology (Miguel John Versluys)

  • Session 3 26 September
    Philology (Jonathan Silk)

  • Session 4 29 September
    History (Catia Antunes)

  • Session 5 4 October (different date and place: Lipsius 147
    Literary Studies (Liesbeth Minnaard)

  • Session 6 6 October
    Gender studies (Eliza Steinbock)

  • Session 7 10 October
    Linguistics (Simanique Moody)

  • Session 8 13 October
    On Comparison (Leo Lucassen)

  • Session 9 17 October
    Midway reflection (Willemijn Waal)

  • Session 10 20 October
    The Study of Religion (Corey Williams)

  • Session 11 31 October
    Philosophy (Frans de Haas)

  • Session 12 3 November
    Political Economy (Crystal Ennis)

  • Session 13 7 November
    International Relations (Alana O’Malley)

  • Session 14 10 November
    Law (Adriaan Bedner)

  • Session 15 14 November
    Art & Material Culture (Caroline van Eck)

  • Session 16 18 November (different date and time 15-17 hs!)
    On Collecting (Pieter ter Keurs)

  • Session 17 21 November
    Conclusion (Gert Oostindie & Willemijn Waal)

  • Session 18 24 November

Time table

All sessions are held from 5.15 to 6.45 pm, normally on Mondays and Thursdays, in Lipsius 148. The course coordinator will be present for all sessions.

Mode of Instruction

  • The course will be coordinated and moderated by Willemijn Waal.
    It will convene twice a week for 90 minutes at the end of the day from mid-September to mid-November, on the Leiden University Humanities campus.

  • Speakers assign an article as preparatory reading (available through open access or the Leiden U digital library), accompanied by one or several questions for students to bear in mind while reading, and one or several propositions for structuring in-class discussion. Assignments are selected for (i) relevance to the speaker’s own research, (ii) relevance to central questions of this course, (iii) significance, and (iv) accessibility to a student audience of widely varying background and specialization. Rather than highly specialized studies, these are big-picture texts that speak to the development of the field in question at large, even if they do so through case study material. Speakers may engage with these texts in class, and/or use them as stepping-stones for taking the discussion further. They lecture for 30-45 minutes, and then moderate discussion among the students.

  • During the course, students take notes toward a think piece (1,000 words) written for their supervisors, in which they comment on the course: what they learn from it, how they respond to it, any questions it may raise, etc. The final session includes a discussion of key points from these draft papers. Once they are finalized, students discuss them with their supervisors. Whether or not this is considered (creditable) assessment is up to the student’s home institute / faculty and their supervisors.

  • Students are expected to attend all sessions. Incidental exemptions may be requested from the course convenor at


Willemijn Waal
Leiden Global


LeidenGlobal is a collaborative effort by the following academic and cultural institutions:

  • Leiden University

  • African Studies Center (ASC)

  • International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS)

  • Netherlands Institute for the Near East (NINO)

  • Roosevelt Study Center (RSC)

  • Royal Institute for Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies (KITLV)

  • National Museum of Antiquities (RMO)

  • National Museum of Ethnology (RMV).

Jointly, the expertise of the scholars associated with these institutions extends to many parts of the world, including Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, the Middle East, North America, and Russia and the Caucasus, through fields of enquiry and themes ranging from archeology to international relations, and from temple iconography to new media. As such, Leiden offers a truly global perspective.

LeidenGlobal aims to raise the visibility and the impact of academic and cultural scholarship and events for a wider audience, and to build partnerships with the media, government, the corporate sector, and NGOs; and to strengthen local collaboration in scholarly endeavors such as grant applications and graduate training.