Full course description
It is common practice in academia and society at large, to talk about “Others” through the voices of the majority. Think of, for example, where most of our knowledge of colonial history comes from: through the voices of historians based in western academic institutions. Or think of how minority groups are portrayed in the media: most often through the voices of western journalists. Or how we study the effects of migration on migrant’s lives: through the voice of mostly western researchers. In speaking about or on behalf of the Other, a process of Othering occurs in which the power of representation is in the hands of the author, journalist or researcher.
This course will turn this process on its head and expose you to the narratives of those who are typically Othered in western European societies. We will see how such voices are a central part of European history and identity by focusing on three sets of actors: historically colonized peoples, contemporary marginalized groups, and migrants coming from developing countries to Europe. We will analyze the narratives of these actors through recent approaches in the disciplines of History and Post-Colonial Studies using the lens of representation and the de-colonization of knowledge.
The course ends in a research assignment in which you analyze a migrant novel in terms of our three dimensions: how does its narrative reflect and deal with the colonial past, contemporary marginalization, and migration itself.
In this course you will:
- Acquaint yourself with recent attempts to de-colonize historical knowledge.
- Familiarize yourself with post-colonial literature on the processes of Othering and recognize these in contemporary society.
- Learn how marginalized actors are a central part of European history and identity formation.
- Analyze a novel as a way to understand societal issues around migration.
- Learn how to formulate a well-reasoned argument on a public debate by taking migrants’ perspectives into account.