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Displacement and Development: Anthropological Perspectives on South Asia


Admission requirements

The following categories of students may register for this course:

  • Students enrolled for the BA-South and Southeast Asian Studies course, students in the Faculty of Humanities of Leiden University

  • Students enrolled for the BA course “Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology” at Leiden University, including Pre-Master’s CA-OS students

  • Students enrolled for the Minor CA-OS

  • Students enrolled for other BA programmes in the Faculty of Humanities of Leiden University

  • Students in other programmes at LU for whom this is an optional course, for example BA students in International Studies

  • Erasmus Exchange students and Study Abroad students who have been expressly admitted to this course

  • Contract-students

See below for registration procedures per category.


The course brings together theories, histories, ethnographies and narratives that address questions of displacement and development in South Asia from anthropological and sociological perspectives. The countries of the South Asian subcontinent, which include India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan and the Maldives, share a common cultural realm and history. The end of British rule in 1947 resulted in wholesale displacement of people as borders were set up between the new states. Since that time those borders, often based on arbitrary religious or ethnic demarcations, have triggered violence and contest, all the while invoking cultural memories that have both questioned and legitimized the political rationales of the new nation-states. South Asian borderlands are therefore increasingly controlled and policed, while being subjected to neo-liberal development as tools of nationalist consolidation. South Asia is home to a growing and increasingly wealthy urban middle class, but paradoxically continues to witness some of the world’s most abject poverty. While influential social movements demand equality and social justice, there remain pervasive perceptions of essential inequalities among people across religious, regional, caste or ethnic divisions, as well as between genders. This course will address the paradoxes of displacement and development, using combinations of texts and visual and audio-visual resources. Regionally the focus will be on developments in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, including their borderlands and transnational linkages.

Course objectives

At the end of this course students will be able to:

  • Distil key arguments in seminal historical and anthropological literature on the theme of the seminar

  • Engage with primary sources – textual and audio/visual – and make connections between multiple sources

  • Write critical reflections on material presented in class, including weekly assignments, an examination, and a paper.

  • Make presentations that combine projects with primary sources and secondary literature

  • Connect current perspectives from anthropology and sociology on South Asia within wider transnational concepts, methods and material on the seminar theme.

  • Conduct research on the course topic of ‘displacement and development’. To do so students will draw on key arguments and concepts presented in class to select a relevant case study of choice, locating relevant resources on the selected case study to write a final paper on the topic.

  • Demonstrate analytical skill and creativity.

  • For the paper and assignments, discuss compulsory readings in class related to relevant (external) resources on the selected topic.

  • In the examination, students will be required not only to reproduce concepts and arguments put forward in the course literature but also analyse a new source on the basis of their acquired knowledge.

Time table


Mode of instruction

Attendance and participation are required for all sessions of the course. Being absent without notification can result in a lower grade or even a failing grade for the course.

Course Load

Total course load for the course: 280 study hours (sbu):

  • Contact hours in class, 12 × 3: 54 SBU

  • Weekly assignments: 12 SBU

  • Readings and exam, 888 pages: 148 SBU

  • Final paper, 5000 words: 66 SBU

Assesment method

Assessment: Weekly assignments and class participation, Final exam AND essay (5.000 words)
Weighing: Weekly assignments and class participation: 20%, Exam: 40%, Final essay: 40%
Resit: The date for the resit of the exam, and for the redo’s of the paper, will be announced during the course.
Exam review: How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results (in BB) at the latest.

Study material

To be announced through Blackboard.


Blackboard module will be active.
Students granted admission must enrol for this course on Blackboard.

Registration in Usis

Anthropology students who follow this course as part of their 3rd year must register in USIS by using the code of the Faculty of Humanities: 5482KAS10W, activity number: 4583 .

Exchange students who have officially been admitted to this course during the Admission Procedure, will be registered in usis by the faculty-administration.

Contract Students: please register as indicated on the website of the Faculty of Humanities.

Contact information

Dr. Sandrien Verstappen (coordinator).
Contact details t.b.a.


Students with disabilities
The university is committed to supporting and accommodating students with disabilities as stated in the university protocol (especially pages 3-5). Students should contact Fenestra Disability Centre at least four weeks before the start of their courses to ensure that all necessary academic accommodations can be made in time conform the abovementioned protocol.

Academic Integrity
Students are expected to be familiar with Leiden University policies on plagiarism and academic integrity. Plagiarism will not be tolerated. Any work submitted under a student’s name is assumed to be that student’s own work; all sources used must be properly indicated and documented in the text (with quotations and/or citations).