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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Divinity : Divinity

Postgraduate Course: Christianity and Politics in Latin America, 1800 to the present (PG) (DIVI11043)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Divinity CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) 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.
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 2024/25, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  None
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 11, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 11, Feedback/Feedforward Hours 1, Revision Session Hours 1, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 172 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 90 %, Practical Exam 10 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Student presentation - 10%
Final essay: a 4000-word essay on a topic chosen by the student - 90%
Feedback Students will have the opportunity to receive suggestions and detailed feedback on an essay plan and outline 3-4 weeks before 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 socio-political implications of movements of religious renewal in Latin America;
  2. Compare and interpret a range of case studies of the forms of political engagement and religiously-inspired activism emerging amongst Christian communities;
  3. Identify and examine multiple patterns of state secularisation and religious adherence;
  4. Pursue rigorous scholarly research with independence and creativity;
Reading List
Stephen Andes, The Vatican and Catholic Activism in Mexico and Chile: The Politics of Transnational Catholicism (Oxford: OUP, 2014)
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)
David Bailey, Viva Cristo Rey: The Cristero Rebellion and the Church-State Conflict in Mexico (Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 1974)
Matthew Butler, Popular Piety and Political Identity in Mexico's Cristero Rebellion: Michoacán, 1927-1929 (Oxford: OUP, 2004)
Benjamin Cowan, Moral Majorities Across the Americas: Brazil, the United States, and the Creation of the Religious Right (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2021)
Paul Freston (ed.), Evangelical Christianity and Democracy in Latin America (New York: OUP, 2008)
Paul Freston, Evangelicals and Politics in Asia, Africa, and Latin America (Cambridge; CUP, 2001)
Virginia Garrard-Burnett, Protestantism in Guatemala: Living in the New Jerusalem (Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 1998)
Virginia Garrard-Burnett, Terror in the Land of the Holy Spirit: Guatemala Under General Efrain Rios Montt, 1982-1983 (New York: OUP, 2010)
Virginia Garrard-Burnett, Paul Freston, & Stephen Dove (eds.), The Cambridge History of Religions in Latin America (New York: CUP, 2016)
Ondina González & Juston González, Christianity in Latin America: A History (New York: CUP, 2008)
Todd Hartch, The Rebirth of Latin American Christianity (New York: OUP, 2014)
Erika Helgen, Religious Conflict in Brazil: Protestants, Catholics, and the Rise of Religious Pluralism in the Early Twentieth Century (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2021)
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)
Robert Levine, Vale of Tears: Revisiting the Canudos Massacre in Northeastern Brazil, 1893-1897 (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1992)
Martin Lindhardt (ed.), New Ways of Being Pentecostal in Latin America (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2016)
John Lynch, New Worlds: A Religious History of Latin America (New Have, CT: Yale University Press, 2012)
David Martin, Forbidden Revolutions: Pentecostalism in Latin America and Catholicism in Eastern Europe (London: SCPK, 1996)
David T. Orique, Susan Fitzpatrick-Behrens, & Virginia Garrard (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Latin American Christianity (New York: OUP, 2020)
Ricardo Ramacciotti, The Politics of Religion and the Rise of Social Catholicism in Peru (1884-1935): Faith, Workers, and Race Before Liberation Theology (Leiden & Boston: Brill, 2018)
Kenneth Serbin, Needs of the Heart: A Social and Cultural History of Brazil's Clergy and Seminaries (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2006)
Kenneth Serbin, Secret Dialogues: Church-State Relations, Torture, and Social Justice in Authoritarian Brazil (Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2000)
Paul Sigmund, Liberation Theology at the Crossroads: Democracy of Revolution? (New York: OUP, 1990)
Timothy Steigenga & Edward Cleary (eds.), Conversion of a Continent: Contemporary Religious Change in Latin America (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2007)
David Stoll, Is Latin America Turning Protestant? The Politics of Evangelical Growth (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1990)
Manuel Vásquez & Anna Lisa Peterson (eds.), Latin American Religions: Histories and Documents in Context (New York: New York University Press, 2008)
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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