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Discipline and Place in the Social Sciences and the Humanities



  • The course is specifically designed for PhD candidates and Research MA students registered at LeidenGlobal partner institutions, but students from other institutions are also eligible to attend. All students should first consult with their advisors before applying.

  • The deadline for application is 12:00 PM on 8th of September 2019. Applicants will learn of their admission status no later than 13th of September 2019.

  • 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 the capacity of the course in subsequent years.

Course objectives

‘Discipline and Place’ is a lecture series offered to PhD and Research MA students at LeidenGlobal partner institutions in the Fall of each year. It gives them an opportunity to reflect on the broader field of the Social Sciences and the Humanities (SSH, in European parlance) –including Archaeology and Law – and to position their own research accordingly. Ideally, students will participate in this course early on in their scholarly training, but applications by students at all stages of their research careers are welcome. The scope of the series stimulates transregional and transdisciplinary dialogue, in line with developments in scholarship worldwide.

A complementary seminar series entitled “Methodologies in the Social Sciences and Humanities” is offered in the Spring term.

Course Description

Central questions
The course will engage with many sub-disciplines in the social sciences and the humanities. Each session will be taught by a guest lecturer from one of these fields who will speak to important aspects of his/her discipline. Coherence is ensured by overarching themes we ask each of the lecturers to address – themes that will then be discussed extensively in class by the course coordinator. These themes include:

  • Decolonising curricula

  • What defines today’s field of inquiry?

  • How does this field relate to realities, representations, and issues of place?

  • Diversity in approaches to knowledge

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

  • 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.

‘Discipline’ and ‘place’ mean many things to many people. Disciplinarily, thematically 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.


A detailed schedule and course syllabus will follow shortly.


All sessions are held from 5.15 to 6.45 pm, normally on Tuesdays and Thursdays, in Lipsius. The first session starts on September 17th. The course coordinator will be present for all sessions.

Mode of Instruction

  • The course will be coordinated and moderated by Elena Burgos Martinez.
    It will convene twice a week for 90 minutes 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 University 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 the 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 starting points for taking the discussion further. They will lecture for 30-45 minutes, and then moderate a discussion among the students.

  • During the course, students will work towards a ‘think piece’ (2,000 words) written for their supervisors, in which they reflect upon the course: what they have learned from it; how they responded to it; the issues it addressed; any questions it brought up for them in terms of their own research, etc. The final session will include a discussion of key points from these draft papers. Once they are finalized, students discuss the papers with their supervisors. Whether or not this is considered creditable is up to the student’s home institute / faculty and their individual supervisors.

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


Elena Burgos Martinez LeidenGlobal


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

  • Leiden University

  • African Studies Center Leiden (ASC)

  • International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS)

  • Netherlands Institute for the Near East (NINO)

  • Roosevelt Institute of American Studies (RIAS)

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

  • National Museum of Antiquities (RMO)

  • Museum Volkenkunde

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.