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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Divinity : Religious Studies

Undergraduate Course: Religions in Africa (REST10056)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Divinity CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis 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.
Course description 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.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students are welcome to take the course.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2020/21, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  None
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 11, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 11, Feedback/Feedforward Hours 1, Summative Assessment Hours 2, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 171 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 60 %, Coursework 40 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 10% 500 words on a seminar topic and reading.
30% Essay (2000 words)
60% Exam (24-hour take-home format).
Feedback Students will submit and receive feedback on an essay plan in week 3.
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S1 (December)2:00
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate a nuanced understanding of Religions in Africa and its diaspora.
  2. Develop familiarity with scholarship that presently influences the fields of Religious Studies, African Religions and World Christianity
  3. Apply knowledge gained from the course to interpret a broad range of religious and social phenomena particularly pertinent to religions of Africa.
  4. Critically assess the evidence offered by primary materials, demonstrating awareness of the challenges of collecting and analysing social scientific and historical sources
  5. Form reasoned arguments ┐ in oral and written work - making use of specific data and theoretical literature.
Reading List
Reading list:

Arjun Appadurai, Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1996).
David M. Anderson and Douglas H. Johnson, ┐Diviners, Seers and Spirits in Eastern Africa: Towards an Historical Anthropology,┐ Africa (1991), 293-298.
Kwabena Asamoah-Gyadu, Sighs and Signs of the Spirit: Ghanaian perspectives on Pentecostalism and Renewal in Africa (Regnum, Oxford, 2015).
Adam Ashforth, Witchcraft, Violence and Democracy in Southern Africa (Chicago University Press, Chicago, 2005).
Felicitas Becker and Joel Cabrita, Religion, Media and Marginality in Modern Africa (Ohio University Press, 2018).
David Chidester, Savage Systems: Colonialism and Comparative Religion in Southern Africa (University of Virginia Press, 1996).
Ezra Chitando. ┐Phenomenology and the study of African traditional religions,┐ Method & theory in the study of religion 17: 4 (2005) p. 299-316.
James Cox, The Invention of God in Indigenous Societies (Durham, 2014).
Hansj÷rg Dilger, M. Burchardt & R van Dijk ┐Introduction: The redemptive moment: HIV treatments and the production of new religious spaces┐, African Journal of AIDS Research, 9, 4 (2010), 373-387.
Anja Dreschke, Martin Zillinger, Heike Behrend (eds), Trance Mediums and New Media: Spirit Possession in the Age of Technical Reproduction (Fordham University Press, 2014).

Thomas Dr°nen, Pentecostalism, Globalisation and Islam: Megachurches in the making? (Leiden, Brill, 2013).
David M Gordon, Invisible Agents: Spirits in a Central African History (Ohio University Press, Athens, 2012).
Adrian Hastings, The Church in Africa (Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1994).

Neil Kodesh, Beyond the Royal Gaze: Clanship and Public Healing in Buganda (Charlottesville, 2010), esp. Introduction.
David Lan, Guns and Rain, Guerrillas and Spirit Mediums in Zimbabwe (Oxford, James Currey, 1985).
Timothy Longman, Christianity and Genocide in Rwanda (New York, Cambridge University Press, 2010).
Saba Mahmood, The Politics of Piety: The Islamic Revival and the Feminist Subject (Princeton University Press, 2005)
Ruth Marshall, Political Spiritualities: The Pentecostal Revolution in Nigeria (Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 2009).
J. Lorand Matory, Black Atlantic Religion: Tradition, Transnationalism and Matriarchy in the Afro-Brazilian Candomble (Princeton University Press, 2005)
David Maxwell, African Gifts of the Spirit: Pentecostalism and the Rise of a Zimbabwean Transnational Religious Movement (Oxford, James Currey, 2006).
A R Mustapha (ed) Sects and Social Disorder: Muslim Identities and Conflict in Northern Nigeria (Oxford, James Currey, 2014).
J K Olupona & T Rey (eds) Orisa Devotion as World Religion: The Globalisation of Yoruba Religious Culture (Madison, University of Wisconsin Press, 2007).

O. Onyinah, ┐Deliverance as a way of confronting witchcraft in modern Africa: Ghana as a case history,┐ Asian Journal of Pentecostal Studies 5, 1, (2002).107┐34.

Ousmane Oumar Kane, The Homeland is the Arena: Religion, Transnationalism and the Integration of Senegalese Immigrants in America (Oxford University Press, 2011).
Stephan PalmiÚ, ┐Introduction: On Predications of Africanity,┐ in Stephan PalmiÚ (ed), Africas of the Americans: Beyond the Search for origins in the Study of Afro-Atlantic religions (Leiden, Brill, 2008), p1-37.
J D Y Peel, Christianity, Islam and Orisa Religion: Three traditions in Comparison and Interaction (Oaklands, CA; University of California Press, 2016).
Derek Peterson, ┐Gambling with God: Rethinking Religion in Colonial Central Kenya,┐ in Derek Peterson and Darren Walhoff (eds) The Invention of Religion (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 37-58.
Terrance Ranger, ┐Territorial Cults in the History of Central Africa┐, Journal of African History, 14, 4, (1973), 581-597.

David Robinson, Muslim Societies in African History (Cambridge, CUP, 2004).

Rosalind Shaw, ┐The Invention of African Religion,┐ Religion 20 (1990), 339-353.
Singleton, M. "Speaking to the ancestors; religion as interlocutory interaction." Anthropos 104 (2009): 311-332.
Ben F Soares (ed) Muslim-Christian Encounter in Africa (Leiden, Brill, 2006).
Aadrian van Klinken, Transforming Masculinities in African Christianity: Gender Controversies in Times of AIDS (London, Routledge, 2013) esp. ch 6 ┐Understanding Transformations of Masculinity: Patriarchy, Male Agency and Gender Justice.┐
E.K. Twesigye, Religion, Politics and Cults in East Africa: God┐s Warriors and Mary┐s Saints. New York: Peter Lang, 2010.

Asonzeh F. K. Ukah, A New Paradigm of Pentecostal Power: A Study of the Redeemed Christian Church of God in Nigeria (Trenton: Africa World Press, 2008).
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Personal and Intellectual Autonomy: Students will develop greater religious and social literacy. They will apply their knowledge to interpret new phenomena. They will learn to be self-reflective in responses both in written and oral communication. (Essay, Presentation, and Exam).
Research and Enquiry: Students will use analytical and critical thinking to research and compose assignments, presentations and exam answers. They will identify and evaluate key information and use clear reasoning in their conclusions. (Essay, Presentation, and Exam).
(Verbal) Communication: Students will develop oral presentation and communication skills in seminars. They will learn to articulate complex ideas and arguments in a coherent manner and to discuss courteously the ideas of their peers. (Presentations)
(Written) Communication: Students will develop the ability to explain information effectively and to create coherent arguments from complex ideas. (Essay and Exam)
Course organiserDr Emma Wild-Wood
Tel: (0131 6)50 8977
Course secretaryMr Jamie Smith
Tel: (0131 6)50 8913
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