reli 332/458 | religion, identity, community |course outline quot;the kataragama pilgrimage:...

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RELI 332/458 | Religion, Identity, Community |Course out l ine Lecturer : Ben jamin Schontha l , ben . s chontha l@otago .a c .nz , 97 Albany St . , Of f i c e 107

Course Overview How does religion shape collective identities? How do political communities impact religion? This paper explores the complicated interweaving of religion, identity, and poltiics in the modern world using examples from Asia, America and Europe.

The course follows two directions of inquiry. The first half of the course explores how particular

technologies of religion (e.g., ritual, myth, symbols, bodily practices) shape our understandings of social sameness and difference. (For example, how exactly does ritual help to construct communal identites?) The second half of the course examines how key aspects of modern political communities (e.g., nationalism, multiculturalism, secularism, religious freedom) shape understandings of religion, religiosity, religious difference and religious harmony. Classes will combine consideration of theory with specific case studies. (Some case studiese.g. those of Sri Lanka, Bali and South Africawill be looked at in multiple classes so that students can build up familiarity with the history, politics and religions there.) The course considers a variety of major themes including ritual action, mythic discourse, bodily discipline, globalization, rationalization, law and religion, secularism, religious freedom, multiculturalism, secularism, commodification of religion and religious diversity.

The course learning objectives:

To familiarise students with the range of ways in which religious identities are forged, maintained, and defended in the contemporary world.

To introduce students to the ways in which scholars have understood religious communities and identities.

To help students consider the ways in which contemporary economic, political and legal cultures shape the ways in which we engage with and understand religious identity.

To encourage students to critically and creatively engage with this scholarly literature. To develop student skills in reading, research, and writing of academic essays. To develop students academic autonomy, that is, the capability to develop frameworks for

the undertaking of research and the confident presentation of findings. To allow students to develop their advanced research skills by preparing a project on a

chosen topic.

Assessments for RELS 332: 1 x 750 Word Outline (10% of total marks) 1 x 3500 Word Essay (40%) 1 x Exam (50%) RELS 332 Outline, Essay, Exam:

You will be asked to write a 3500-word essay on a topic of your choosing. The essay should investigate aspects of contesting, defining, reshaping or constructing religious identity in one particular context. You will submit a 750-word outline for this essay ahead of time. Marking rubrics for the essay will be discussed in detail in class, along with essay writing skills.

Exam: There will be a final exam administered by the examinations office. The exam will count for 50%

of your marks and will contain short answer and essay questions based on the readings and lectures. The purpose of the exam is to assess whether or not you have done the readings and come to class.

Assessments for RELS 458: 1 x 4000 Word Essay (50%) 1 x 4000 Word Essay (50%) Essays for RELS 458 can be on a topic of your choosing, providing they engage in some way with the

themes of the course.


July 10th - Week 1 Idem , Identities, Religious Identities Sen, Amartya. Identity and Violence: the illusion of destiny. Norton, 2006. Pp. 18-39. Galanter, M. A Dissent on Brother Daniel, Commentary Vol. 36, No. 1, pp. 10-17 (July, 1963). July 17th - Week 2 Collectivity and Communitas: Ritual, Pilgrimmage and the Preservation of Society Durkheim, Emile. The Elementary Forms of Religious Life. Translated by Karen E. Fields. New York:

Free Press, 1995. Pp 216-225. Turner, Victor. The Ritual Process. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1968. Pp. 94-107. Pfaffenberger, Bryan. "The Kataragama Pilgrimage: Hindu-Buddhist Interaction and Its

Significance in Sri Lanka's Polyethnic Social System." The Journal of Asian Studies 38, no. 2 (1979): 253-270

LaFleur, William. "Points of Departure: Comments on Religious Pilgrimage in Sri Lanka and

Japan." Journal of Asian Studies 38, no. 2 (1979): 271-81 July 24th - Week 3 Narrative, Genealogy and Authority: Origin Myths and the Social

Charter Malinowski, Bronislaw. Myth in Primitive Psychology. In A Reader in the Anthropology of Religion.

Edited by Michael Lambek. Oxford: Blackwell, 2002. Pp. 176-84.

Lincoln, Bruce. Discourse and the Construction of Society. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989.

Pp. 15-27 (pay attention to 21-6, in particular) DeVotta, Neil. Sinhalese Buddhist Nationalist Ideology. East-West Center Policy Studies No. 40. Pp. 5-

9.1 Mahavamsa passages about Buddhas trips to Sri Lanka and Vijaya in Buddhist Visions of a

Primordial Past in The Sri Lanka Reader. John Holt (ed.) Durham: Duke University Press, 2011. Pp. 12-25.

Mahavamsa passages about Duhagmai/Dutugemunu in The Mahavamsa. William Geiger (trans.) Sri Lanka: Government publishers. Pp. 170-8.

Dutugemunu (the comic book). Skim pages 18-40: Ask yourself: how does this differ from the

Mahavamsas original passages? Optional Gunawardana, R.A.L.H. "The Kinsmen of the Buddha: Myth As Political Charter in the Ancient

and Early Medieval Kingdoms of Sri Lanka." In Religion and Legitimation of Power in Sri Lanka. Edited by Bardwell L Smith. Anima Books, 1978: 96-106

Bartholomeusz, Tessa. In Defense of Dharma: Just War Ideology in Buddhist Sri Lanka. New York:

Routledge, 2002. Pp. 19-25 & 53-67. July 31st - Lecture 4 Symbols and Beliefs and Religious Violence: Identity as Shared Worldview Geertz, Clifford. Religion as a Cultural System A Reader in the Anthropology of Religion. Edited by

Michael Lambek. Oxford: Blackwell, 2002. Pp. 205-216 Juergensmeyer, Mark Terror in the Mind of God. LA: University of California. 1-15 Roberts, Michael Pragmatic Action and Enchanted Worlds: A Black Tiger Rite of

Commemoration Social Analysis 50(1) 2006: 73-102. Optional Roberts, M. Saivite Symbols, Sacrifice and Tamil Tiger Rites Social Analysis 49(1) 2006: 67-93 Aug 7th - Week 5 Religious Identity Beyond Belief: Power, Discipline and Practices Asad, Talal. The Construction of Religion as an Anthropological Category in A Reader in the

Anthropology of Religion. Edited by Michael Lambek. Oxford: Blackwell, 2002. Pp. 116-26; 128-9.

1 (If students would like to read further full version is available at:

Samuels, Jeffrey. "Toward An Action-oriented Pedagogy: Buddhist Texts and Monastic Education in Contemporary Sri Lanka." Journal of the American Academy of Religion 72, no. 4 (2004): 955-971.

Yalman, Nur. The Ascetic Buddhist Monks of Ceylon. Ethnology 1(3) (1962). Pp. 315-323. Look at: "The Bhikkhu Patimokkha." Available on the Internet at Optional: a General introduction to Buddhist monastic life Gethin, Rupert. The Foundations of Buddhism. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998. Chapter 4, "The Buddhist Community," 85-110.

Aug 14th - Week 6 Buddhism, Nationalism and Ideas of Conflict Anderson, Benedict. Imagined Communities: Reflections the Origins and Spread of Nationalism. London:

Verson, [1983] 2006. 1-7 Juergensmeyer, Mark. "What the Bhikkhu Said: Reflections on the Rise of Militant Religious

Nationalism." Religion 20, no. 1 (1990): 53-75 Abeysekara, Ananda. "The Saffron Army, Violence, Terror (ism): Buddhism, Identity and Difference in Sri Lanka ." Numen 48, no. 1 (2001): 1-46 Optional, but recommended:

Kapferer, Bruce. Remythologizing Discourses in The Legitimization of Violence Edited by David Apter: 159-188.

Aug 21st - Week 7 Rationalization and Hinduism in Bali Weber, Max. Economy and Society. Translated and Edited by Guenther Roth and C. Wittich. San

Francisco: University of California Press, 1978. Vol I, Pp. 422-439. Geertz, Clifford. Internal Conversion in Bali in The Interpretation of Cultures. Basic Books,

1973. Pp. 170-190. Picard, Michel. What is in a Name: Agama Hindu Bali in Hinduism in Modern Indonesia. Edited b

Martin Ramstedt. London: Routledge, 2003. Pp. 56-72. Midsemester Holiday Break Sept 4th - Week 8: Religion, Difference and the Limits of Liberal Multiculturalism Taylor, Charles. "The Politics of Recognition." In Reexamining the Politics of Recognition. Edited by

Amy Gutmann. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994. Pp. 23-73 Comaroff, J. "Reflections on Liberalism, Policulturalism, and ID-ology: Citizenship and Difference

in South Africa." Social Identities 9, no. 4 (2003): 445-473

Optional Salomon, Noah. "The Ruse of Law: Legal Equality and the Problem of Citizenship in Multi-

Religous Sudan." In After Secular Law. Edited by Winnifred Fallers Sullivan, Robert A. Yelle and Mateo Taussig-Rubbo. 2011 Pp. 200-217.

Sept 11th - Week 9 Secularism, Religious Freedom and Islam in the U.S.A. and France Mahmood, Saba. Secularism, Hermeneutics and Empire. Public Culture 18(2) (2006). Pp. 323-

347. Fernando, Myanthi. Reconfiguring Freedom: Muslim Piety and the Limits of Secular Law and

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