Religions in Africa (DIVI10040)
Normal Year Taken
Delivery Session Year
Although this course does not have any pre-requisites, it is designed for students who have studied two full years of Divinity/Religious Studies beforehand. If you have not studied this subject area to that level, it is your responsibility to ensure the course is an appropriate level for you during the first week of teaching, and you must drop this course (before the Course Change Deadline) if you do not have the required background knowledge/skills.
This level 10 course studies religious diversity from the perspective of the African continent and in communities with African heritage across the globe. Through comparisons between indigenous religions, Christianity and Islam the course examines both religious traditions and innovations. It analyses the connection between religion, society and politics. It also explores the coexistence, conflict and imbrication of these various traditions and asks how interaction between distinct religious beliefs and practices is understood by religious practitioners to enrich and/or diminish those traditions.
Academic Description: The course explores: 1) Current themes and historical background to the study of religion in Africa and its diaspora; 2) In-depth case studies from Africa and its diaspora which enable students to draw wide-ranging comparative conclusions. The course balances cultural interests in the internal working of religions with their social impact on the societies in which they operate. The contemporary social science focus of the lectures is supported by a robust historical understanding of religions in Africa and their study. The course takes a thematic approach to its subject. It uses ethnographic case-studies to explore similar themes which intersect religion and public life and which recur across different religious traditions, in different parts of Africa and the world. Syllabus Outline/Content: In the first weeks of this course the subject will be introduced through discussing ideas of religion, Africa, indigeneity, syncretism and global movements. This will include historical background on the study of Religions in Africa and Diaspora. The following weeks will examine a number of themes which intersect religion and public life and which recur across different religious traditions: healing and wholeness, communication and media, gender and sexuality, transnationalism and diaspora, violence, spiritual and political power. Student Learning Experience Information: The students will study a selection of textual and visual primary and secondary sources on a relevant topic each week. During the class there will be discussion of the sources and opportunities to raise further questions as well as a more formal lecture to introduce the topic and its sources. Assessment will be through 500 words on a seminar topic/reading, an essay and an exam. The seminar topic/reading and essay will be on a particular aspect of the course. The exam will cover material from the entire course. The last class will allow students the opportunity to ask questions about relevant material.
Written Exam 60%, Coursework 40%, Practical Exam 0%
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