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Decentering Global History


Admission requirements

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


Noted global historian Natalie Zemon Davis once asked: “can the historian hold onto the subjects of ‘decentered’ social and cultural history, often local and full of concrete detail, and still address the perspectives of global?” In this literature seminar, we explore new approaches in global history that seek to accomplish just that. Taking Sebastian Conrad’s recent overview of the “different reactions to the challenge of the global” as a starting point, we will read monographs by historians who each ‘decenter’ an important aspect of established global history narratives and, in doing so, push the boundaries of the discipline.

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

  • 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 Colonial and Global History: how global (political, socio-economic, and cultural) connections interact with regional processes of identity and state formation; hence insight in cross-cultural processes (including the infrastructure of shipping and other modes of communication) that affect regions across the world such as imperialism, colonisation, islamisation, modernisation and globalisation (in particular during the period 1200-1940).

  • 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 Literature Seminar

The student:

  • 8) can distinguish different global history methodologies and articulate their advantages and disadvantages for writing inclusive global histories;

  • 9) has acquired knowledge of debates concerning the archival and historiographical representation of different historical voices and can situate these debates in the wider discipline;

  • 10) can apply the state of the art in decentering global history to their own research interests.


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, (s)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, (s)he will be excluded from the seminar.

Course Load

Total course load 10 EC x 28 hours= 280 hours

  • Lectures: 7x2 = 14

  • Study of compulsory literature: 200

  • Assignments per class (6 assignments, 2 pages each): 24

  • Presentation assignments, including coordination with fellow student(s) (1): 6

  • Final review essay: 36

Assessment method


  • AQCI assignments (weekly 2-page assignments from week 2; instructions on blackboard and in class).
    measured learning objectives: 1-10

  • Class participation and presentation
    measured learning objectives: 1-10

  • Review essay (journal-style book review essay)
    measured learning objectives: 1-10


  • Written paper: 30%

  • Oral presentation and class participation: 30%

  • AQCI Assignments (6): 40%

The final grade for the course is established by determining the weighted average with the additional requirement that the final review assignment must always be sufficent.


Assignments and written papers should be handed in within the deadline as provided in the relevant course outline on Blackboard.


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

Exam review

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.


Blackboard will be used for:

  • publication course outline

  • communication of deadlines

  • communication of non-compulsory events and seminars of interest

  • sharing additional literature

  • communication of grades

Reading list

  • Sebastian Conrad, What is Global History? (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2016).

  • Dipesh Chakrabarty, Provincializing Europe: Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference (2nd ed.; Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008)

  • Muzaffar Alam and Sanjay Subrahmanyam, Indo-Persian Travels in the Age of Discoveries 1400-1800 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007)

  • Walter G. Andrews and Mehmet Kalpaklı, The Age of Beloveds: Love and the Beloved in Early-Modern Ottoman and European Culture and Society (Durham: Duke University Press, 2005).

  • Enseng Ho, The Graves of Tarim: Genealogy and Mobility across the Indian Ocean (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006).

  • Tariq Omar Ali, A Local History of Global Capital: Jute and Peasant Life in the Bengal Delta (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2018).


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

General information about uSis is available.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable


Dr. G.C. Kruijtzer