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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Divinity : Divinity

Undergraduate Course: Christianity and Politics in Latin America, 1800 to the present (DIVI10104)

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 course examines the historical and contemporary relationship between Christian movements and politics in Latin America. Special attention is given to the political implications of religious revivals, the changing forms of church-state relations, the forms of Christian activism that emerged in the continent, and the construction of civil society since 1800.
Course description Academic Description:
The politicisation of religion in Latin America has attracted a good deal of scholarly and public attention in recent decades. At least since the 1970s the evangelical eruption into state politics and the activism of progressive Catholics have demonstrated the public vigour of movements of religious renewal. The projection of religious energies in the continent's public sphere, however, has longer historical roots, and it is the goal of this course to examine the dynamic relationship between Christianity and politics in Latin America over the past two centuries. Students will evaluate the political significance of religious practices and mobilisations and how Christian actors and organisations navigated turbulent processes of socio-political change. The course considers the shifting involvements between churches and the state, their role in the construction of civil society, the Christian forms of grassroots activism, and the churches' ideological discourses. Lectures and seminars will analyse the sweeping religious transformations reframing the political contours of the continent by looking at an array of case studies.

Outline Content:
The course will be divided in four main units: 1) The session 'Catholics and Protestants in the Emerging Nation States' concentrates on the transformations experienced by the Catholic Church under the new independent nations, especially the rise of Romanised Catholicism, and the earliest wave of evangelical expansion between 1800-1930. Case studies will be taken from Guatemala, Brazil, and Chile. 2) The next unit on 'Religious Conflict and Rebellion' examines church-state conflicts and grassroots messianic movements in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Case studies: the Canudos War in Brazil (1895-8) and the Cristero Rebellion in Mexico (1926-9). 3) The session 'Christian Political Thought and Action Before Liberation Theology' explores the local embodiments of the transnational movement Catholic Action and the implications of Protestant ecumenism in Peru, Mexico, and Brazil. 4) The final block on 'Authoritarian Rule and Democracy Since 1960' turns to contemporary issues, examining the ambiguous relationship of the Catholic Church with the repressive military regimes of the southern cone and evangelical politics.

Student Learning Experience:
Each weekly session will start with a one-hour lecture followed by a student presentation and a seminar discussion. There will be a list of essential and recommended readings for each week and students are expected to read the texts before lectures, so they can take part in the seminar discussions. Readings set for each week will combine primary historical sources and specialised secondary literature. In the mid-semester assessment students will write a 1000-word review of 3-4 book chapters or articles on a topic chosen from a pre-circulated list. The final assessment will consist of a 2500-word essay on one of the topics of the course.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  13
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, Revision Session Hours 1, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 170 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 90 %, Practical Exam 10 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Student presentation - 10%
Review essay - 30%
Final essay - 60%
Feedback Students will have the opportunity to receive formative feedback on an essay plan and outline prior to the submission of the final essay.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Evaluate the political implications of movements of religious revival in Latin America;
  2. Recognise the forms of socio-political engagement that emerged amongst Christian communities in the continent;
  3. Explain the changing modes of church-state relationship and their impact on religious communities;
  4. Read and interpret key academic texts and primary sources critically and contextually;
Reading List
Stephen Andes & Julia Young, (eds.), Local Church, Global Church: Catholic Activism in Latin America from Rerum Novarum to Vatican II (Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press, 2016)

Paul Freston (ed.), Evangelical Christianity and Democracy in Latin America (New York: OUP, 2008)

Virginia Garrard-Burnett, Paul Freston, & Stephen Dove (eds.), The Cambridge History of Religions in Latin America (New York: CUP, 2016)

Austen Ivereigh (ed.), The Politics of Religion in an Age of Revival: Studies in Nineteenth-Century Europe and Latin America (London: Institute of Latin American Studies, 2000)

Daniel Levine (ed.), Religion and Political Conflict in Latin America (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1986)

John Lynch, New Worlds: A Religious History of Latin America (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2012)

Timothy Steigenga & Edward Cleary (eds.), Conversion of a Continent: Contemporary Religious Change in Latin America (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2007)
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Research and Enquiry
- Analytical skills: the ability to critically examine the changing relationship between Christian movements, politics, and civil society in Latin America.
Personal and Intellectual Autonomy
- Independent learning and development: to exercise personal and creative judgment in the study of religion and politics.
- Verbal communication and presentation: to convey complex ideas and arguments persuasively and engagingly with peers.
KeywordsChristianity,Politics,Latin America,Catholicism,Evangelicalism
Course organiserDr Pedro Feitoza
Tel: (0131 6)50 8959
Course secretary
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