nl en

Religion and Modernity in Global Context


NOTE: As of 31 january 2013 there have been some changes in the ‘Mode of instruction’ and the ‘Assesment method’. Please see below.

There has been a change in the time-table as of 21 november 2012 – the course is moved to Thursdays (see the dates and time below).

Admission requirements

Only the following categories of students can register for this course:

  • Students enrolled for the BA programme “Culturele antropologie en ontwikkelingssociologie” at Leiden University who have passed the Propedeuse

  • Exchange and Study Abroad students

Please see the registration procedure below.


How do religion and modernity relate? Until a couple of decades ago, the general assumption was that the emergence of ‘modernity’ would result in a gradual decline of religion. In parts of Western Europe (such as the Netherlands and Britain), over the past century, institutionalised religion has indeed lost a lot of ground, but elsewhere this has not been the case. But even there where institutionalised religion went into decline, this has not resulted in the disappearance of religion from the public domain. What it did result in, however, was the relationship between religion and the state being questioned even stronger than before. The global claims inherent in most religions result in people defining themselves at once in a local and a trans-national sphere. Consequently, globalisation and modernity provide contexts in which religion, and the religious, attain new shapes. How is modernity transforming religious traditions? In what ways is religion being redefined, as globalization changes people’s orientation, and the networks through which they maintain social, economic and political relationships? In what ways can an ideology such as nationalism be understood to substitute religion? The exploration of religion and modernity in a global context can provide new and challenging perspectives on processes of modernization.

Course objectives

The course intends to familiarize students with the major anthropological and sociological debates on religion, secularism and global modernity; to get acquainted with methodological approaches to the study of religion; and to equip students to pursue further studies in the field of religious practices.

Time table

Time: Thursdays 7 February to 25 April 2013, 15-17 h
Location: Pieter de la Court Building, Wassenaarseweg 52, Leiden

  • from 7 Febr. to 7 March: room 5A41

  • 14 March: room 1A27

  • 21 and 28 March: room 1A22

  • 4 and 11 April: room 1A37

  • 18 and 25 April: room 5A29

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures 10 × 1 h (15 sbu)

  • Group discussions 15 × 1 h (15 sbu)

  • Literature: 900 pp (150 sbu)

  • Response papers: 4,000 words (60 sbu)

  • Poster presentation (40 sbu)

Assesment method

You will be evaluated for your critical engagement with the course readings as evidenced by your contributions to our class discussions and reading responses/discussion questions, as well as your understanding of course content and your demonstrated ability to apply key concepts and approaches to new cases as evidenced in your poster. Weight for each of the assessments is as follows; please see the syllabus for additional information.

Weekly Response Papers: 50%
Class participation/ presentation: 25%
Poster and poster presentation: 25%


Blackboard module will be active from mid January 2011. Students who have been granted admission must register for this course on Blackboard.
The course programme and a list of additional literature will be made available on Blackboard at least one week preceding the start of the course.

Reading list

  • Luhrmann, Tanya (2012). When God Talks Back: Understanding the American Evangelical Relationship with God. Knopf New York

  • Mahmood, Saba (2005). Politics of Piety: The Islamic Revival and the Feminist Subject. Princeton University Press

  • Selected articles (to be announced on Blackboard)


  • Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply for the exchange programme.
    Only those exchange students whose admission to this particular course has already been approved, need to register for this course in Usis and on Blackboard.

  • BA studenten CA-OS van Universiteit Leiden:
    Inschrijving geschiedt via Usis, alleen voor “hoorcollege HC” en “tentamen TEN”. Bij problemen met Usis-inschrijving, raadpleeg de Usis-helpdesk van de FSW.
    Bij aanhoudende problemen, stuur een mailtje naar met het verzoek om je op de deelnemerslijst van de themamodule te zetten.


Dr. Henrike Florusbosch