Focus on Race

The following upcoming courses include a substantial focus on issues of race and the intersection of race and religion.

2021 Winter Term Courses

REL 66 Women, Religion, and Social Change in Africa (identical to AAAS 42 and WGSS 44.03)

This introductory, multidisciplinary course examines women's religions ideas, beliefs, concerns, actions, rituals and socio-cultural experiences in African societies and cultures from a comparative, historical and gender perspective. We will look at women's experiences of social change in African religions, the encounter with Islam, slavery, Christianity, and colonialism. We will analyze the articulations of economic and political power or lack of power in religious ideas as we ask questions such as: What are the different antecedents and circumstances in which women exercise or are denied agency, leadership, power and happiness in their communities? Texts will include nonfiction, fiction, and film narratives.


REL 67 Religion and Imperialism

An examination of the impact of imperial expansion on the religious systems of the conquered.  The course will focus primarily on the religious consequences of European expansion in North America and Africa but will also examine Jewish responses to Roman imperialism at the time of Jesus.  We shall examine the attempts of traditional religious leaders to explain and control the imperial presence as well as the development of new religious movements that grew out of spiritual crises of conquest.  This course will examine various types of prophetic movements and revitalization movements that developed in response to conquest as people sought to preserve their cultural identities in the face of their forced integration into imperial systems.  Issues of conversion to religions associated with the conquerors as well as the challenges of secular culture will be discussed.


2021 Spring Term Courses

REL 3 Indigenous Religions in the Colonial Americas ((Identical to ANTH 50.32)

This course explores the indigenous religious traditions of both North and South America in the context of colonialism. The colonial societies of the Americas were built on various kinds of systemic racism. By definition, systemic racism categorizes people according to their perceived differences, and arranges such differences hierarchically. Thus a central concern of this course is to examine the various ways in which Native communities were presented as religiously different from Europeans, and to explore how such differences were used to portray them as inferior. In the 1800s and 1900s, systemic racism was increasingly based on more biological and "scientific" ideologies of difference. Yet many of these ostensibly secular ideas were foreshadowed in the religious discourses of the 1500s, 1600s and 1700s. In order to understand more recent forms of systemic racism, it is therefore necessary to have an historical awareness of their pre-secular roots.


REL 69 Religion and World Politics (Identical to GOVT 20.07)

Modernization theorists confidently predicted that religion would cease to be a matter of public concern and would become limited to individual and private spheres by the end of the twentieth century. The Iranian Revolution put an end to such speculation. This course examines the relationship between religious pluralism and political affairs in European, African, and Asian nations. Case studies will include Northern Ireland, Nigeria, South Africa, the Middle East, and India.