Global Religion

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Global Religion

  • Host University

    Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

  • Location

    Amsterdam, The Netherlands

  • Area of Study


  • Language Level

    Taught In English

  • Course Level Recommendations


    ISA offers course level recommendations in an effort to facilitate the determination of course levels by credential evaluators.We advice each institution to have their own credentials evaluator make the final decision regrading course levels.

    Hours & Credits

  • ECTS Credits

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
  • Overview

    Learning outcomes:
    Knowledge and understanding - The student has acquired knowledge and understanding of:
    (1) the anthropological approach of religion as distinct from other disciplinary approaches.
    (2) the classic and contemporary interpretations of religion through the work of classic and contemporary anthropologists.
    (3) religion as a contemporary global phenomenon.

    Application - The student has acquired the competences to:
    (4) ask anthropological questions regarding the religious practices that they encounter during this course.
    (5) critically assess different theoretical approaches in the anthropology of religion and their (in)ability to describe, interpret and represent religious praxis;
    (6) describe some of the methodological problems that are typical for anthropology of religion, i.e. the insider-outsider gap, and embodied practice and interpretation (mind vs. body).

    Making judgements - The student is able to demonstrate:
    (7) reflection on their assumptions (biases) and an open and interpretive attitude vis a vis religious beliefs and practices.

    The aim of the course Global Religion is to gain knowledge and insight into the forms of religion as a global practice. Our starting point is the idea that any investigation of religious practice should begin with the concrete forms in which religion presents itself to us in a research setting. The anthropological approach of religion is a social-scientific angle which looks for the way in which religious practice and social processes are related. This basically boils down to two questions: how social structure influences religious practice, and how religious practice influences social processes. This question applies to both small-scale societies and groups, and to large-scale societies, as well as to more network-like forms of social organization, for example, in digital media.

    In the perspective of the global, these questions will direct us to the cultural logic of expansion, religious movements, in- and exclusion in religion, the urge for 'purification', and subsequently religion and violence, as well as relativism and formations of the secular.


    Weekly assignments: 50%; Written exam: 50%.

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Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

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