Postgraduate Course: African Religious Diversity (REST11027)
|School||School of Divinity
||College||College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
|Credit level (Normal year taken)||SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate)
||Availability||Available to all students
|Summary||This level 11 course examines the variety of religious expressions found on the African continent and in communities with African heritage across the globe. It studies the diversity of traditions and of innovations through comparisons between indigenous religions, Christianities and forms of Islam. 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.
To enable students to comprehend African religious diversity and draw wide-ranging comparative conclusions 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.
The course takes a thematic approach to its subject demonstrating the variety of approaches to healing, gender, and so on. It uses ethnographic case-studies to explore similar themes which intersect religion and public life and examines the diversity of lived approaches across different religious traditions, in different parts of Africa and the world.
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.
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 a long essay and a choice of seminar presentation or fieldwork/interview assessment. The two assessed elements will be on a particular aspect of the course. To complement the course a visit will be organised to an international church of African origin in Edinburgh.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
||Other requirements|| None
Information for Visiting Students
|High Demand Course?
Course Delivery Information
|Not being delivered|
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
- Demonstrate a sophisticated and nuanced understanding of the diversity of religions in Africa and its diaspora.
- Build-upon prior knowledge of the scholarship that presently influences the fields of Religious Studies, African Religions and World Christianity.
- Gain advance skills in applying knowledge gained from the course to interpret a broad range of religious and social phenomena particularly pertinent to religions of Africa.
- Assess critically and in detail the evidence offered by a variety of primary materials, demonstrating awareness of the challenges of collecting and analysing social scientific and historical sources.
- Form complex, reasoned arguments ┐ in oral and written work - making detailed use of specific data and theoretical literature.
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).
Chitando, E. ┐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).
|Graduate Attributes and Skills
||Personal and Intellectual Autonomy: Students will enhance their 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/Assignment).
Research and Enquiry: Students will develop their analytical and critical thinking to research and compose essay and assignments or presentations. They will identify and evaluate key information and use sophisticated reasoning in their conclusions. (Essay, Presentation/Assignment).
(Verbal) Communication: Students will improve their oral presentation and communication skills in seminars and with the public (for those taking the assignment option). They will articulate complex ideas and arguments in a coherent manner and discuss courteously the ideas of their peers. (Presentations/assignments)
(Written) Communication: Students will develop the ability to explain information effectively and to create coherent arguments from complex ideas. (Essay and Presentation/Assignment)
|Course organiser||Dr Emma Wild-Wood
Tel: (0131 6)50 8977
|Course secretary||Miss Heather Milligan
Tel: (0131 6)50 7227