Issues in the Study of Religion [CRN 77172]

Discipline: Philosophy and Religious Studies
Instructor: Stewart
Credits: 3
Day: B
Start: 1210
End: 1330
Field Work: Day 1 - Tuesday, 22 November | Peru
Prerequisites: Sophomore standing or higher Download Syllabus

This course explores contemporary religion, its nature, types, and forms of expression. We will focus specifically on contemporary religion in Latin America. We will work through New Worlds: A Religious History of Latin America by John Lynch (Yale Press) paying particular attention to Brazil, Cuba, and Peru. We will cover the history from the first Christian evangelists’ arrival in Latin America to the dictators of the late twentieth century. We will pay attention to the reception of Christianity by native peoples and how it influenced their social and religious lives with special attention to how Indian religion and ancestral ways have survived within the new Christian culture (for example, The Virgin of Guadalupe). The course follows the development of religious culture in Latin America by highlighting significant historical and religious events: the response of religion to the Enlightenment, the emergence of the Catholic Church from the wars of independence, the growing challenge of liberalism and the secular state, and in the twentieth century, military dictators’ assaults on human rights. Following Lynch, the course focuses on these key themes: the Spanish and Indian struggle for justice, the Catholic Church’s position on slavery, the concept of popular religion as distinct from official religion, and the development of liberation theology.

Field Work

Country: Peru
Day: 1 - Tuesday, 22 November

Description: Visit and compare an ancient Indian religious site and a Roman Catholic cathedral. Guided tour of Huallamarca Huaca, guided tour of Santo Domingo Cathedral and Convent and lunch in San Isidro neighborhood. Learning Objectives:

  1. To gain a familiarity of the ancient and colonial religious institutions and sites of urban Peru with an interest in examining the ways in which religion is practiced in its particular contexts.
  2. To gain an understanding of the ways ancient Indian traditions as they existed before colonialism.
  3. To consider the role of colonialism in defining religious identity and shaping religious practices will also be considered.