Courses not to be missed: Fall 2020
Dana Robert & Nimi Wariboko
This masters’ level course in the history of African Christianity (19th century to the present) will address African Christian identities, biographies, and traditions. Topics include colonialism and Christian mission, indigenous churches, pentecostalism, church-state relations, and transatlantic connections.
Anthropology of Immigrant Health
This medical anthropology course presents different ways of studying cultural and medical pluralism in the United States through ethnographies of immigrant experience. We will analyze transformations of ethnicity, gender, race, national identity and health practices that have marked both historical and contemporary migrations of people to the United States. We will also explore the impact of intensified transnationalism, health status changes and healthcare practices among newer American groups, as they concurrently sustain ties to homelands and seek ways to form healthy communities in the United States. In particular, we will examine the roles of religious life and practice in relation to a range of healing ways in immigrant communities.
Cities in the Middle East: Mecca to Dubai
This course examines Middle Eastern history through the lens of its cities, focusing on Mecca, Damascus, Jerusalem, Baghdad, Cairo, Istanbul, Tehran, Beirut, Damascus, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha. In these cities, caliphs, presidents and kings have ruled; religious clerics adjudicated Islamic law; architects and artists constructed magnificent monuments; and merchants traded the world’s goods. Cities have also been the centers for literary and scientific experimentation, educational expansion, and social entertainment. Today, they are the epicenter for both political protest and neoliberal globalization. A close examination of the region’s cities provides a window on to developments in governance, religion, and culture. Classes will include historical lectures, discussions about the readings, and displays of images, music and films that illustrate the diversity of experiences to be found in Middle Eastern cities.
Cults & Charisma
CAS RN 409/grs RN 709
This course will examine religious sects and charismatic leaders using case-studies from history and the contemporary world, as well as analytical principles from Religious Studies, Anthropology, and Sociology. We will examine various approaches to the question, what makes a person powerful over others?, in connection with the formation of messianic sects, the genesis of the “cult,” the traditional authority of priests and kings, sainthood, the events at Jonestown and Waco, and the popular image of the “cult”. Students will learn to employ a variety of tools and models to understand historical situations of charismatic leadership. Undergraduate admission by permission of instructor.
Cultural Formation of the Clinicia
This course will provide a context for exploring and reflecting on one’s own cultural formation in relation to such topics as gender, sexual orientation, race, class, religion, body size, and other areas where there are the greatest risks for health disparities through unexamined bias. The course examines the values one brings into one’s practice as a care provider, and how the interaction of both influence one’s personal and professional life, including responses to diverse patient cultures.
Gender, Sexuality, & Judaism
Explores the role of gender and sexuality in Judaism and Jewish experience, historically and in the present. Subjects include constructions of masculinity and femininity, attitudes toward (and use of) the body and sexuality, gendered nature of religious practice and authority. Mahmood, Peter Coviello, Jolyon Thomas, and Elizabeth Shakman Hurd.
The rise and spread of Islam from the seventh century to the present; introduction to its central beliefs, institutions, and practices, and its impact on the religious and cultural history of Asia and Africa. Continuity and change in the modern period. This course fulfills a single unit in each of the following BU Hub areas: Historical Consciousness, Global Citizenship and Intercultural Literacy.
Islamic & Jewish Philosophy & Mysticism
Major trends in Jewish mystical thought and practice from late antiquity to today including Kabbalah, Hassidism, and modern messianic movements. Includes close readings of Zohar. Covers theories and practices of mystical ascent, neo-Platonic trends in religious thought and messianic speculation.
Religions of Asia
Study of Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, and Shinto. Focus on the world view of each tradition and the historical development of that world view. Carries humanities divisional credit in CAS.
Religion, Secularism, and Power: Topics in Religious Thought
CAS RN452/GRS RN752
Do we live in a secular age? What forms does religion take in the modern world and in the U.S. in particular? How do we understand the relationship between religion and secularism? And how do genealogies of secularism shape the politics of religious (and secular) freedom? This seminar examines the growing field of secularism studies and postsecular critique, including its intersections with religious studies, anthropology, feminist and queer studies, and critical race theory. Possible authors include Talal Asad, Saba
Seminar in World Christianity and Mission History
STH TM 910
This seminar focuses on methodology, historiography, and textual analysis in the history of Christian world mission, and its relationship to the growing scholarship of World or Global Christianity. The purpose of the course is to introduce students to a range of sources and approaches for mission history and World Christianity. Students will gain insight into the periodization and chronology of mission history. They will be introduced to major issues such as inculturation, colonialism and the “colonization of consciousness,” and globalization and networking as historical forces. In order to sharpen critical thinking and conceptualize possible approaches to dissertation research, the class will read texts together and discuss them. The syllabus proceeds roughly in chronological order, and readings reflect different methodologies and types of sources. In addition, students will begin collecting materials appropriate to their own fields of inquiry.
Special Topics in Medical Anthropology: Program Evaluation for Social Scientists
This course will examine different approaches to applying the tools and methods of anthropology to evaluating programs. Evaluation anthropology takes an integrated approach that examines meanings of program efficacy and effectiveness, in the context of cultural systems that change over time and space. As Mary Odell Butler has asked, “How can we establish useful statements of program value given the complex contexts in which programs are implemented? How can we arrive at evaluation results induced from variable manifestations of program concepts in complex cultural systems?”
Theoretical Approaches to the Study of Religion
Origins and history of the academic study of religion. Different constructions of religion as an object of study and the methods that arise from them. The role of the humanities and social sciences in understanding religion’s place in history and contemporary experience.