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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 2015. 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 disciplines and/or thematically and/or methodologically defined fields of inquiry in the Humanities and the Social Sciences. Overall coherence is ensured by two questions, which lecturers and students will revisit for each session:

  1. What defines today’s field of inquiry? (See sessions, below, for the fields in question.)
    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: ‘self-evidence,’ and other evidence

  • Where do the disciplines come from? And the places, or the ‘areas’?

  • The situatedness of scholarship, for disciplinarily / thematically and regionally defined fields alike: history of the field, researcher, sources, research questions, data, theory, methodology, institutional and socio-cultural context

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

  • Language and translation, including cultural translation

  • Objects and agency

  • Orientalism

  • Postcolonialism

  • 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. This course proceeds from the position that disciplinarily / thematically defined fields of inquiry, on the one hand, and regionally defined fields, on the other, are not mutually exclusive or antagonistic, and that they 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, following the observation that the study of various places in the world is conducted at high professional levels in the LeidenGlobal partner institutions, it offers an entry point for a debate on where ‘we’ find ourselves that retains its relevance in the 21st century in novel, striking ways. Together with the optional readings on Area Studies, some reflections on this notion, its discontents, and its relation to the disciplines are offered prior to the series, in the form of excerpts from a position paper drafted for a 2012 research review of the Leiden University Institute for Area Studies. This paper highlights interactions across definitional and institutional boundaries.


We will take a tour d’horizon of the Social Sciences and the Humanities. In addition to discipline-defined sessions, there will be special sessions (*marked below) on mechanisms of inclusion and exclusion in the academy, on comparison, and on theories, practices, and ideologies of collecting. Awareness of mechanisms of inclusion and exclusion matters to everyone in the academy. This also holds for reflection on the phenomenon of comparison, which 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 (Maghiel van Crevel)

  • Session 1 17 September
    Geography (Ton Dietz)

  • Session 2 21 September
    Sociology (Aya Ezawa)

  • Session 3 24 September
    Antropology (Erik Bähre)

  • Session 4 28 September
    Gender studies (Eliza Steinbock)

  • Session 5 1 October
    On Inclusion and Exclusion in the Academy (Isabel Hoving)

  • Session 6 5 October
    Archaeology (Miguel John Versluys)

  • Session 7 8 October
    Linguistics (Simanique Moody)

  • Session 8 12 October
    Philology (Jonathan Silk)

  • Session 9 15 October
    History (Catia Antunes)

  • Session 10 26 October
    Film and Media Studies (Pepita Hesselberth)

  • Session 11 29 October
    Literary Studies (Liesbeth Minnaard)

  • Session 12 2 November
    Art & Material Culture Studies (Caroline van Eck)

  • Session 13 5 November
    On Comparison (Leo Lucassen)

  • Session 14 9 November
    The Study of Religion (Markus Davidsen)

  • Session 15 12 November
    Philosophy (Frans de Haas)

  • Session 16 16 November
    Political Studiies (Patricio Silva)

  • Session 17 19 November
    Economics (Crystal Ennis)

  • Session 18 23 November
    International Relations (Alana O’Malley)

  • Session 19 25 November
    Law (Adriaan Bedner)

  • Session 20 30 November
    On collecting (Pieter ter Keurs)

  • Session 21 3 December
    Conclusion (Maghiel van Crevel)
    8 Session 22 7 December

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 Maghiel van Crevel. 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 a single article as preparatory reading (preferably 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. Readings are selected for (i) relevance to the speaker’s own research, (ii) relevance to the parameters laid out below, (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.

  • Students receive a list of optional readings on Area Studies, as embodying the nexus of ‘discipline’ and ‘place’ that is central to the course.

  • During the course, students take notes toward a think piece (1,000 words), in which they reflect on what they have learned, in terms of their project and their overall professional development. Once finalized, these papers serve as a basis for discussion with their advisors. Summaries are circulated among course participants for exchange, and for discussion during the concluding meeting, which includes a collective look back at the course, and an evaluative component.

  • Students are expected to complete the readings and attend all sessions unless they are prevented by illness or misadventure. Incidental exemptions may be granted by the course coordinator, depending on the grounds cited by the student.


Maghiel van Crevel
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.