Due to the Corona virus it is unclear how the programmes will take place. For the latest news please check the course page in Blackboard/Brightspace.

Prospectus

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Anthropology of Religion

Course
2020-2021

Admission Requirements

The following categories of students can register for this course:

  • Students enrolled for the bachelor’s programme CADS at Leiden University who have passed the propaedeutic phase.

  • Bachelor’s students from other academic programmes from Leiden University who have passed the propaedeutic phase of their programme and who want to follow this course as a level 300 elective.

N.B.: Because of the limited number of available places for this course, selection may have to take place from among students of other academic programmes at Leiden University.

The following category will be registered and selected by our administration after a clear admissions procedure:

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

Course Description

Dominant theories of modernity have long positioned religion as fundamentally traditional and therefore incompatible with economic development and growth. Instead, modernity was expected to give rise to a secular sphere, existing alongside religious thought but independent of it. This secularisation paradigm has been fundamentally challenged since the turn of the twentieth century, when powerful political movements emerged worldwide which identified first and foremost in terms of religious allegiance. It has also become increasingly evident that strong commitment to economic modernity does not mean that politics cannot be inspired by religious values. Moreover, influential scholars of the Anthropology of Religion fundamentally challenge the opposition between religion and secularism, arguing that the secular sphere is never free from subjective assumptions of morality and truth. This paradigm shift has created space for the exploration of a field of cultural practices and meaning-making that far exceeds institutionalized religion, to encompass old and new animisms, new age, popular media culture, as well rituals of state, to give a few examples.

Studying religion from an anthropological perspective raises fundamental questions about the cultural realms in which people locate themselves. How do such realms attain shape, and include claims towards knowledge, truth and reason? How do humans belong, and to what sort of environments, and what is their relationship or responsibility towards them? How do they create categories that give rise to social and cultural distinctions which are overlapping, layered and situational? How does this translate into ideas, values and practices that serve to legitimize hierarchies that are central to the political and moral inequalities that define today’s world? In this course we consider phenomena as varied as political movements, healing practices, and dealings with the dead, foregrounding the experiential, the performative and the political.

Course objectives

The course equips students to:

  • acquire an understanding of key debates in the Anthropology of Religion.

  • become familiar with key concepts in the Anthropology of Religion.

  • approach religion and secularism as categories of practice.

  • locate religious movements in their historical and political contexts.

  • identify, analyse and problematize the religious dimensions of the large social issues at stake in our globalized world.

  • engage critically with primary sources – textual and audio/visual – and make connections among multiple sources.

  • gain practical experience with the application of these categories, and learn how such insights can contribute to a radical reformatting of the analytical canvas.

Schedule

Lectures and groups discussion are combined in weekly 3 hour sessions. Dates can be found on our website

Mode of Instruction

10 ECTS = 280 sbu (study hours)

  • Lectures 12 × 2 hours = 24 * 1,5 = 36 sbu

  • Group discussions 12 × 1 hour = 12 * 2 = 24 sbu

  • Ethnographic interview = 12 sbu

  • Additional literature study for final paper = 108 sbu

  • Written assignments (bi-weekly assignments, discussion questions, ethnographic interview, final paper – total 7,500 words) = 100 sbu

Assessment Method

Four bi-weekly assignments (each 500 words): 40%
Ethnographic interview and analysis (750 words): 10%
Final paper (3,000 words): 30%
Class preparation, including posting of discussion questions (each 150 words), and participation: 20%

Re-takes for assignments and final paper are possible only if final grades are below 6,0, and then only if students have submitted all the required assignments/papers in time.

Brightspace

Brightspace is the digital learning environment of Leiden University. Brightspace gives access to course announcements and electronic study material. Assignments will be submitted in Brightspace. Announcements and changes to courses are made via Brightspace. Students are advised to check Brightspace daily to remain informed about rooms, schedules, deadlines, and details of assignments. Lecturers assume that all students read information posted on Brightspace.

  • How to login

The homepage for Brightspace is: Brightspace

Please log in with your ULCN-account and personal password. On the left you will see an overview of My Courses.

Course Literature

Boddy, Janice, and Michael Lambek (eds.) 2015 A Companion to the Anthropology of Religion. Chichester: John Wiley. (Available as e-book at the Leiden University Library)

Readings that are electronically available for download through the Leiden University Library webportal.

Registration

  • Registration in uSis for the lectures is mandatory for all participants. Please consult the course registration website for information on registration periods and further instructions.

  • Registration for the exam is NOT necessary because this course does not have one final (classical) exam.

  • Exchange students: if you have been officially admitted for this course during the Admission Procedure, you will be registered for the lectures by the faculty’s Student Service Centre.

Contact

Dr. Erik de Maaker