Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology: Media and Material Culture, 2011-2012

This MA specialization brings together subfields such as the Anthropology of Media, Visual Anthropology and Material Culture studies. It explores questions regarding the circulation of media, objects and technologies, the economic and political infrastructures and conditions thereof, their inflection within everyday life worlds, and the ideological understandings of diverse forms and processes that turn them into one thing in one place and something different in another. We are interested in the ways in which images, sounds, objects, and more abstract forms of ‘information’ circulate and shape perception and experience.

How do media form part and parcel of social movements and cultural and political practice, including that of today’s heritage politics? What role do new, allegedly democratizing, media technologies play in providing access to some while excluding others? What kind of ‘worlds’ are conjured via commodity displays in malls, museums and on internet sites? Of interest, too, are the publics called forth by diverse mediations as well as the constraints—ideological, cultural, political, economic, financial, governmental, technological—that contour the possibilities and effects of such forms in particular places and times.

Starting September 2011, it is also possible to complete ‘Media and Culture’ by means of a specialisation in museum studies in collaboration with the Museum of Ethnology and the Museum of Antiquities in Leiden. (This pilot track can only be followed if one starts with the programme in September).


Schematic time-table for the September-intake of the programme Media and Culture:
time-table MC (time of the classes highlighted in red is prone to change)
Room numbers and other details can be found in course descriptions below.


Students who start in February cannot make use of ‘Visual Ethnography as a Method’ nor take part in the ‘Museum Anthropology’ pilot.

Schematic time-table for the February-intake of the programme in Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology (all three specialisations): Time-table February
Room numbers and other details can be found in course descriptions below.

Visual Ethnography as Method

Students who start in February cannot make use of ‘Visual Ethnography as a Method’.

The Institute for Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology now offers ‘Visual Ethnography as a method’ as a part of the MA programme. ‘Visual Ethnography as a method’ is a methodological option, embedded within the MA CA/DS. This option qualifies students for the use of audiovisual methods as a part of anthropological research. Skills are acquired through coursework as well as the conduct of an independent academic research project. This methodological option within the MA combines anthropological theory and hands-on audiovisual practice.

Admission to ‘Visual Ethnography as a method’

‘Visual Ethnography as a method’ is only accessible to a limited number of qualified students. Students taking ‘Visual Ethnography as a method’ can only start by September 1st (not by February 1st). The MA admissions committee assesses and prioritizes applications. Students who would like to be placed for ‘Visual Ethnography as a method’ need to write an application that includes reference to the criteria mentioned below:

  • The completion, with good results, of the BA course Visual Methods or equivalent. Visual Methods is accessible within the regular BA programme of CA/DS. If required, students from abroad can incorporate Visual Methods in a pre-Masters programme. Please enclose copies of the relevant course certificates with your application.

  • The viability of the proposed MA research project. Viability depends on the topic chosen, but also significantly on the location at which fieldwork is to be conducted. For ‘Visual Ethnography as a method,’ students are only allowed to do fieldwork at a site where they have a good command over the language. Dutch students are therefore normally not allowed to conduct fieldwork outside the Netherlands. Please enclose an outline of the MA research project envisaged (450 words max.) with your application.

  • If, considering the earlier study trajectory, a student can be expected to complete the MA option ‘Visual Ethnography as a method’ on time, that is, within one year. Please add a copy of your BA grade sheet with your application.

Deadline for applications June 1st; the decisions of the MA admissions committee will be communicated by July 1st. Presently, no more than twelve (12) students can be admitted annually.

Study trajectory ‘Visual Ethnography as a method’

Students taking ‘Visual Ethnography as a method’ with some adjustments follow the regular CA/DS MA programme. (1) In November, students do not enrol in the second part of their chosen elective course, but take the course ‘Visual Ethnography: Fieldwork Preparations.’ (2) The MA fieldwork is limited to two months: January and February. (3) In March, students take the course: ‘Visual Ethnography: Analysis and Editing.’ The MA trajectory ‘Visual Ethnography as a method’ is concluded with the completion of a short film in combination with a paper.
See also: schematic time-table
(time of the classes highlighted in red is prone to change)

Museum Anthropology (pilot)

This brand new track will start as of September 2011, and offers students the opportunity to explore a range of different approaches and issues in cultural politics and cultural theory as relevant to modern museum practices.

This track is not available for students who start with the programme in February!

Please see the course descriptions below and also the schematic time-table .

Meer info

The Master’s programme in Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology at Leiden University covers one year. Successful completion of the MA program involves completion of all its components:

  • three compulsory courses
  • two elective courses
  • research proposal
  • field-research (fieldwork)
  • MA thesis (in case of “Visual Ethnography as a Method” the thesis has audiovisual & textual components)

The MA programme starts in September of each year. There is also a possibility to start the program in February each year, but students who wish to do so should realise that this involves an alteration in the order of the courses of the MA programme. Students who start in February cannot make use of ‘Visual Ethnography as a Method’ nor take part in the ‘Museum Anthropology’ pilot.