Religion, Race, & Empire


Syllabus Cover Art: Nikolaj Cyon, “Alkebu-Lan” Or, Africa, Uncolonized

The idea of our department’s senior seminar (#RELS450) is that it center on the specialty of the faculty member teaching the course but be broad enough for buy-in from students with a variety of interests. So, I designed this seminar where we would interrogate the mutual construction of “religion” and “race” as categories in the context of colonialism (where we’ll explore these issues in South Asia, Southern Africa, and U.S. empire). The mission statement of the course, in a sense, is that it is not just about theory, but also practice. My contention is that religious studies is often real good at cultivating a keen understanding of theory, but not always as successful at demonstrating the “real world application” of that theoretical perspective. The course argues that there is a practical importance (and moral imperative) to critically analyzing the world around us with an attentiveness to “religion” and “race” as constructed categories deployed in the context of empire. With this in mind, I lightened the reading load (and sadly had to cut a lot of readings out of the syllabus) to afford us the time to apply our analytics to the world outside the classroom and to do that, in part, by working on a semester long research project. What I’m doing in lieu of assigning those readings is bringing them into class with me and offering them as resources for further research on the part of students. So, without further adieu, here’s a link to the syllabus!  RELS450 Syllabus