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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Divinity : Religious Studies

Undergraduate Course: Global Indigenous Religions (REST08021)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Divinity CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 8 (Year 1 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course highlights various thematic, theoretical and methodological issues when studying Global Indigenous Religions. Drawing on case studies from many indigenous and non-indigenous contexts, the course seeks to understand both the experience of those who we label as practising 'indigenous religions' and their relationship to the larger community in both national and international contexts.
Course description Academic Description

The aim of the course is to examine various themes, theories, and methodologies in the study of indigenous religions, both as a 'local' and 'global' experience. It will engage with historical and contemporary ideas and practices, without losing sight of the complex geo-political landscapes that indigenous peoples find themselves in. The course will highlight key questions related to religious practice, belief, myths, healing, stories, knowledge, performance, nationalism, and transnationalism and the way these ideas are navigated across time and space. It will also bring these ideas to bear on the academic study of 'indigenous religions', and critically assess its engagement with the hegemonic model of 'world religions'.

Outline Content:

The lectures are organised into two sections, one focusing on Asian traditions and the other on African traditions. The focus in both sections will be on how indigenous religions are practised. The first section will introduce the course overall, before beginning with traditions from Asia. Definitions and a brief historical overview lead on to a consideration of contemporary ideas and practices. Popular practices and identities will be emphasised as part of taking a methodological approach to the material 'from below'. It will draw examples from a wide array of traditions from Asia, and will make comparisons with other global indigenous religions. The second section will examine the themes, theories and methodologies in the study of indigenous religions in Africa. It provides three case studies from the global south. It concludes by examining the impact of African indigenous religions on contemporary civil society and other religions.
Student Learning Experience Information

The course has a 3-hour lecture plus a 1-hour tutorial per week. Lectures are based around presentations from the lecturer and include some audio-visual content. Background readings are set for each week's topics. Tutorials are student-led discussions of set readings based on a full bibliography built into the syllabus, and involving student presentations.

Students will demonstrate their completion of the intended learning outcomes through a combination of lecture and tutorial activities, by the tutorial assessments, a main essay, and by completion of an exam. The main essay will require attention to points and themes crossing two or more weeks, and the exam will require 3 questions to be answered from three sections covering the entire course (based on traditions, themes and methodologies), with the aim to achieve a whole course coverage in assessment.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesThe course may prove particularly attractive to all Visiting UG students.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2019/20, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  None
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 33, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 10, Feedback/Feedforward Hours 1, Revision Session Hours 2, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 150 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 60 %, Coursework 25 %, Practical Exam 15 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 1. Tutorial work (15%): The tutorial assessment (15%) comprises two parts: two mini-essays of 500 words each, and one verbal tutorial presentation, each counting for 5%.
2. Essay (25%): 2,000 words on a topic to be chosen.
3. Degree Examination (60%): 3 questions, 2 hour paper

A minimum pass mark of 40 is required in both the coursework (combined tutorial and essay marks) and the exam components in order to achieve an overall pass for this course.
Feedback Students will be invited to submit course essay plans for comments and discussion two weeks before the essay is due; this counts as the course's formative feedback/feed-forward event.
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S2 (April/May)2:00
Resit Exam Diet (August)2:00
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Outline the main beliefs and practices of the traditions studied
  2. Make historical connections amongst the religions and relate these to contemporary situations
  3. Identify themes that emerge from the study of the traditions considered in lectures and tutorials
  4. Understand the value of the category Indigenous Religions in a comparative context
  5. Show an understanding of the complex relationships of religion, culture, and politics
Reading List
Thomas Dubois. ¿Why Doesn't Asia Have Religion?¿, Huffington Post, available online: - also available on LEARN.

Lily Kong. ¿Disrupting ¿Asian Religious Studies¿: Knowledge (Re)production and the co-construction of religion in Singapore¿. Numen 62 (2015): 100-118.

Peter Van der Veer. 2014. The Modern Spirit of Asia: The Spiritual and the Secular in China and India. Princeton: PUP.

Peter van der Veer (ed). 2011. Religious Networks in Asia and Beyond. London: I.B. Tauris and New York: MacMillan.

Peter van der Veer (ed.). 2015. Handbook of Religion and the Asian City. Aspiration and Urbanization in the Twenty-First Century. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Brian S. Turner (ed). 2015. Routledge Handbook of Religions in Asia. Oxford: Routledge.
Nelson, John. 2017. Diasporic Buddhism and Convert Communities. The Oxford Handbook of Contemporary Buddhism. Edited by Michael Jerryson. Oxford: Oxford University Press (Part I: Regions ¿ Global) [Online access via the Library catalogue].
Scheifinger, Heinz. 2008. ¿Hinduism and Cyberspace¿ Religion 38, 3: 233-249 [Available online via library EJournals].
Tatla, Darshan Singh Tatla. 2014. ¿The Sikh Diaspora¿. The Oxford Handbook of Sikh Studies. Edited by Singh, Pashaura; Fenech, Louis E. Singh, Pashaura; Fenech, Louis E. Oxford: Oxford University Press (Part VI: Diasporic Expressions) [Online access via the Library catalogue].
Werbner, Pnina. 2013. ¿Ritual, religion and aesthetics in the Pakistani and South Asian Diaspora¿. Routledge Handbook of the South Asian Diaspora. Edited by Joya Chatterji and D. A. Washbrook. Abingdon, Oxon: New York: Routledge (Part V: Chapter 25: 318-329) [Online access via the Library catalogue].
Zavos, John. 2013.¿Hinduism in the diaspora¿. Routledge Handbook of the South Asian Diaspora. Edited by Joya Chatterji and D. A. Washbrook. Abingdon, Oxon: New York: Routledge (Part V: Chapter 24: 306-317) [Online access via the Library catalogue].
Vallely, Anne. 2002. ¿Moral Landscapes: Ethical Discourses among Orthodox and Diaspora Jains¿. A Reader in the Anthropology of Religion. Edited by Michael Lambek Anne Vallely. Malden, Mass; Oxford: Blackwell Publishers (Part IV: Chapter 37) [To be provided on Learn].
Veer, Peter Van der. 2002. ¿Transnational religion: Hindu and Muslim movements¿. Global networks 2, 2: 95-109 [Available online via library EJournals].
Adogame, Afe, ¿African Christian Communities in Diaspora¿ in Ogbu Kalu (ed.) African Christianity: An African Story, Pretoria: University of Pretoria, 2005, pp. 494-514.
Baylis, Phillipa. An Introduction to Primal Religions (Traditional Cosmology Society, Edinburgh, 1988).
Bourdillon, M.F.C. The Shona Peoples (Harare, Mambo Press, 1976).
Cox, James L. Critical Reflections on Indigenous Religions, chapter one (Burlington, Ashgate, 2013).
Cox, James L. From Primitive to Indigenous: The Academic Study of Indigenous Religions, especially chapters 1 and 5 (Aldershot, Ashgate, 2007).
Cox, James L. ¿Characteristics of African Indigenous Religions in Contemporary Zimbabwe¿ in, G. Harvey (ed.). Indigenous Religions: A Companion, pp. 230-242 (London, Cassell, 2000)
Steven Engler, ¿Umbanda and Africa¿, Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions Vol. 15, No. 4 (May 2012), pp. 13-35
Idowu, E.B. Olodumare: God in Yoruba Belief (London, Longmans, 1962).
Kodesh, Neil, Beyond the Royal Gaze: Clanship and Public Healing in Buganda (Charlottesville, University of Virginia Press, 2010).
Matory, J. Lorand, Black Atlantic Religion: Tradition, Transnationalism and Matriarchy in Brazilian Candomblé. (Princeton. Princeton University Press, 2005).
Olupona, Jacob (ed.) African Spirituality, Forms, Meanings and Expressions. (New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 2000).
Platvoet J, Cox J.L. & Olupona, J. The Study of Religions in Africa: Past, Present and Prospects (Cambridge, Roots & Branches, 1996).
Ray, Benjamin C., African Religions: Symbol, Ritual and Community. (2nd ed.) (New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2000). (first ed 1976).
Ray, Benjamin C. Myth, Ritual and Kingship in Buganda (New York, Oxford; Oxford University Press, 1991).
Ter Haar, Gerrie, Halfway to Paradise: African Christians in Europe (Cardiff, Cardiff Academic Press, 1998).
Thomson, D, Van Beek, W. and Blakely T. Religion in Africa (London: J. Currey 1994)
Walls, A.F., ¿Primal Religions in Today¿s World,¿ Religion in Today¿s World, F. Whaling, editor, (Edinburgh, T. and T. Clark, 1987), 250-278.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills - Collect and synthesize evidence from a wide range of primary and secondary sources applicable to the study of Global Indigenous Religions and its interaction with other major religions;
- Evaluate and critique the work of scholars who have studied Global Indigenous Religions, and World Religions both in the historical and contemporary periods;
- Formulate questions emerging from the course contents and structure an argument to express resolutions to the questions critically and analytically;
- Read and interpret a range of different sources pertaining to Global Indigenous Religions within their historical, social and theoretical contexts, and be able to differentiate primary from secondary sources;
- Formulate, investigate and discuss questions informed by Religious Studies methodologies;
- Analyze and explain how cultural assumptions impact on the interpretation of Global Indigenous Religions;
- Express clearly ideas and arguments, both orally and in writing, and in electronic media;
- Develop oral presentation and participation skills during seminars and group-work, and in written form through essays.
- Collaborate efficiently and productively with others in the process of learning and presenting conclusions ¿ this includes those with a range of backgrounds and knowledge bases about indigenous traditions, knowledge, rights, and related topics, such as fellow-students, tutors and supervisors;
- Organize their own learning, manage workload and work to a timetable;
- Effectively plan, and possess the confidence to undertake and to present scholarly work that demonstrates an understanding of the aims, methods and theoretical considerations of this course relevant to Religious Studies;
- Work independently on the creation of essays using the standards current in the academic field of Religious Studies.
KeywordsGlobal Indigenous Religions,Indigenous Knowledge,Tradition,Innovation,Nationalism,Transnationalism
Course organiserDr Arkotong Longkumer
Tel: (0131 6)50 8781
Course secretaryMs Katrina Munro
Tel: (0131 6)50 8900
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