A focused analysis of the academic study of religions and cultures in global contexts provides a common grounding in influential methods and theories, historical issues, scholarly debates, and current disputes about the genealogy of the fields of religious, cultural and global studies with the aim of elucidating resources for grappling with challenges of modernity, identity, secularism, and globalization.
The colloquium requirement is completed over the fall and winter terms. There are various possibilities by which to fulfil the requirement, including:
Credit is on pass/fail basis, and includes submission of written reflections on each event/workshop/internship, etc.
A supervised research project leading to a public presentation.
An independent thesis project to be undertaken on an approved topic based upon research connected with the discipline and in accordance with the guidelines of the department.
Note: Not all courses are offered every year. Students are also allowed to take up to 1.0 credit of courses in other graduate programs in the university or at another institution, upon approval of the respective graduate coordinators.
Until the end of the 20th century, the social scientific view of modernity seemed settled: it entailed the differentiation of religious and secular spheres, as well as the privatization and eventual disappearance of religion. However, global events invited the reassessment of this widely-held view of modernity as ‘secularization’ or as the positive triumph of ‘secularism.’ This course will introduce students to this now rapidly growing interdisciplinary field of ‘secular studies,’ which is transforming debates in the study of religion, culture, history, politics, philosophy, and beyond. The first part of the course looks at the conceptual and theoretical ideas about secularism and secularity. The second part of the course looks at different ‘cases’ and explores how they have taken up and are modifying earlier debates.
Religion and politics have been intertwined since time immemorial, but in the modern West they came increasingly to be seen (both practically and normatively) as separate spheres. This privatization of religion has been progressively challenged in recent decades, the more so as non-Western colonies have achieved independence, the Cold War has ended and been replaced by what some see as a clash of religiously-defined civilizations, and globalization has accelerated. The focus of the course is largely contemporary, looking at the role of religion as such, and of particular religions in our globalizing world. The course examines a variety of religions, regions, forms of political involvement, and themes (including religion-state relations around the world; religion, ‘fundamentalism’, political violence and peacebuilding; religion and international relations; religion and global civil society; religion, political parties and electoral behaviour; religion and international development; religious diversity, immigration and politics; religion and nationalism; religion and democracy).
In this course, we explore the historic and contemporary approaches to Islam and Muslim Experiences and are introduced into a variety of topics that include identity and cultural politics, Quranic Hermeneutics, Sufism, nationalism, as well as Islamism. We also examine contemporary scholarship to analyze major debates in contemporary Islamic thought and practice, such as interaction of tradition and modernity, the relationship between the individual and community, and the construction of gender norms.
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