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Leaving the Left: native workers and migration during two waves of globalization (1850-2020)


Admission requirements

This course is part of the (Res)MA History Programme. It is not accessible for BA students.


Since the 19th century labour migration has caused tensions in receiving societies, especially amond native workers, who in certain cases felt threatened by newcomers, who were accused to work for lower wages and break strikes. During the first wave of global labour migrations (1840-1920), some countries (Australia, the US, South Africa) organized Labour (political parties and unions) supported nativist agitation, while in other cases (France) unions tried to integrate foreign workers as quickly as possible and stressed international solidarity. During the second wave (1950-2020) we again divergent attitudes and stances by organized labour, whereby social-democratic parties in some countries (Denmark e.g., but also nationalist labour movements in Japan and other Asian countries) have taken over important parts of the anti-immigration discourse. In this class we will try to find out under what conditions organized labour stressed international solidarity, or – the opposite – chose for a more nativist and sometimes openly xenophobic position. We will compare national cases studies in both periods and try to establish a more general pattern, using secundary literature and contemporaneous printed sources.

Course objectives

General learning objectives

The student has acquired:

  • 1) The ability to analyse and evaluate literature with a view to addressing a particular historical problem;

  • 2) The ability to give a clear and well-founded oral and written report on research results in correct English, when required, or Dutch, meeting the criteria of the discipline;

  • 3) The ability to provide constructive feedback to and formulate criticism of the work of others and the ability to evaluate the value of such criticism and feedback on one’s own work and incorporate it;

  • 4) The ability to participate in current debates in the specialisation;

  • 5) (ResMA only:) The ability to participate in a discussion of the theoretical foundations of the discipline.

Learning objectives, pertaining to the specialisation

The student has acquired:

  • 6) Thorough knowledge and comprehension of one of the specialisations or subspecialisations as well as of the historiography of the specialisation, focusing particularly on the following; in the specialisation Cities, Migration and Global Interdependence: the manner in which migrations (of people, goods and ideas) between and within states have led to shifts (in cohesion, ethnic composition, policies, imaging, culture, and power relations) in the period 1600-2000, with a focus on (urban) networks (within and across borders).

  • 7) (ResMA only): Thorough knowledge and comprehension of the theoretical foundation of the discipline and of its position vis-à-vis other disciplines.

Learning objectives, pertaining to this Research Seminar

The student:

  • 8) Has learned how to use the comparative method and analyse current problems and discussions by using experiences elsewhere and in other time periods.


The timetable is available on the MA History website

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar (compulsory attendance)
    This means that students have to attend every session of the course. If a student is not able to attend, he is required to notify the teacher beforehand. The teacher will determine if and how the missed session can be compensated by an additional assignment. If specific restrictions apply to a particular course, the teacher will notify the students at the beginning of the semester. If a student does not comply with the aforementioned requirements, he will be excluded from the seminar.

Course Load

Total course load 10 EC x 28 hours = 280 hours

  • Attending seminars: 140

  • Study of compulsory literature and assignment(s): 140

Assessment method


  • Written paper (8000 words, based on research in primary sources, excluding title page, table of contents, footnotes and bibliography)
    measured learning objectives: 1-8


  • Written paper: 100 %


Deadline paper: 21-12-2019.


Should the overall mark be unsatisfactory, the paper is to be revised after consultation with the instructor.

Inspection and feedback

How and when a review of the written paper will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the results, a review of the written paper will have to be organised.


No use of blackboard. We will communicate through e-mail.

Reading list

Leo Lucassen, ‘A brave new world: the left, social engineering, and eugenics in twentieth-century Europe’, International Review of Social History, Volume 55 (2010) 265-296.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

General information about uSis is available on the website

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


Prof. dr. Leo Lucassen