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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Divinity : Divinity

Undergraduate Course: Global Indigenous Religions (DIVI08021)

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 African traditions and the other on their manifestation in the diaspora. The first 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. The second half charts a trajectory of religiosity as it is articulated in the African diaspora pulling from several different traditions such as Palo, Obeah and Ifa (among others) and look at several different nation-states such as the United States, Cuba, and Brazil.

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 Students MUST NOT also be taking Global Indigenous Religions (REST08021)
Other requirements Students who have previously taken the following course MUST NOT enroll: Global Indigenous Religions (REST08021)
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  78
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 196 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 60 %, Coursework 40 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 15% - Tutorial assessment, comprising two parts: two mini-essays of 500 words each, and one verbal tutorial presentation, each counting for 5%

25% - Essay: 2000 words on a topic to be chosen

60% - Final Written Exam (3 questions) (in person exam)
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.
No Exam Information
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
Sample reading list:

Castor, N. Fadeke. 2017. Spiritual Citizenship: Transnational Pathways from Black Power to Ifá in Trinidad. Durham: Duke UP.

Covington-Ward. Y and J.S. Jouili, eds. 2021 Embodying Black religions in Africa and its diaspora. Durham: Duke UP.

Crosson, J.B. 2021. Experiments with power: Obeah and the remaking of religion in Trinidad. Durham: Duke UP.

Hagerdorn, K 2001. Divine Utterances: the performance of Afro-Cuban Santería. Washington and London: Smithsonian Institution Press.

Harding, R. E. 2003. A Refuge in Thunder: Candomblé and alternative spaces of Blackness. Bloomington: Indiana UP.

Neale Hurston, Z. 1931. Hoodoo in America. The Journal of American Folklore. 44(174):317-417.

Johnson, P.C. 2002 Migrating Bodies, Circulating Signs: Brazilian Candomblé, the Garifuna of the Caribbean, and the Category of Indigenous Religions. History of religions.42(4): 301-327.

Johnson, P. C., 2007. Diaspora Conversions: Black Carib religion and the recovery of Africa. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Johnson, P.C. 2011 An Atlantic Genealogy of 'Spirit Possession.' Comparative Studies in Society and History. 53(2): 393-425.

Morrish, I. 1982[ 2022] Obeah, Christ, and Rastaman: Jamaica and Its religion. Cambridge: Lutterworth Press.

Ochoa, T. R. 2010. Society of the Dead: Quita Manaquita and Palo praise in Cuba. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Pérez, E. 2016. Religion in the kitchen: cooking talking and the making of Black Atlantic traditions. New York: NYU Press.

Palmié, S. 2002 Wizards and Scientists: explorations in Afro-Cuban modernity and tradition. Durham: Duke UP.

Paton, D and M. Forde 2012. Obeah and Other Powers: The Politics of Caribbean Religion and Healing. Durham: Duke UP.

Paton, D. 2015 The Cultural Politics of Obeah: Religion, Colonialism and Modernity in the Caribbean World. Durham: Duke UP.

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 Alysa Ghose
Course secretaryMr Andre Johnson Hall E Vasconcelos
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