Kies de Nederlandse taal
Course module: 201400040
Religion, media and popular culture
Course infoSchedule
Course code201400040
ECTS Credits7.5
Category / Level3 (3 (Bachelor Advanced))
Course typeCourse
Language of instructionEnglish
Offered byFaculty of Social Sciences; Undergraduate School Sociale Wetenschappen; Cultural Anthropolgy;
Contact persondr. M. Oosterbaan
dr. M. Oosterbaan
Other courses by this lecturer
Course contact
dr. M. Oosterbaan
Other courses by this lecturer
Teaching period
2  (15/11/2021 to 04/02/2022)
Teaching period in which the course begins
Time slotC: C (MON-afternoon, TUE-aftern,THU-morn)
Study mode
Course application processOsiris
Enrolling through OSIRISNo
Enrolment open to students taking subsidiary coursesYes
Waiting listNo
Course placement processniet van toepassing
Course goals
  • Refined understanding to religious processes and their effects.
  • Insight into the genesis of the modern category of religion.
  • Insight into how modern media are part of religious mobilization and revival.
  • Insight into the relations between religion, power and knowledge.
  • Insight into the way in which religious, cultural and political processes interact.
  • Insight into the processes that define religious group boundaries.
  • Refined understanding of the relation between religion and globalization.
  • Refined understanding of the critique on the secularization thesis.
  • Insight into the relation between cultural studies and anthropology.
For a long time, social science scholars understood religion as a phenomenon that was successfully relegated to the private spheres of life. Modern thinkers envisioned secularization as a gradual but progressive process, which guaranteed the boundaries between religion, politics, science and the economy. However, contrary to these expectations, religion never ceased to be of importance beyond the private spheres; not in the so-called West and not in the rest of our globalized world. Whereas much of the so called ‘return of religion’ is framed in reactionary terms – think of news broadcast about fundamentalist groups, for example – religion shows itself in a variety of other contexts and processes. People do not necessarily turn to religion to resist the forces of globalization, but also in search of ways to become part of global networks, communities and processes. This pursuit is facilitated by cross-fertilizations between religion, media, entertainment and popular culture. For example: in 2018, in the Netherlands, 3 million viewers watched the live television broadcast of ‘The Passion’, in which famous Dutch pop-singers replayed the crucifixion of Christ in the Bijlmer, a multicultural neighborhood in the South-East of Amsterdam. In 2013, in Rio de Janeiro, Pope Francis lead a night vigil on Copacabana beach that resembled first and foremost a contemporary pop concert, attended by 3 million peopled and streamed via the internet around the world. This course offers students the tools to understand these phenomena in the context of processes generally described as globalization. The course will focus on the formations of contemporary religious communities in various parts of the world, so as to inform students of the differences between several religious traditions, the socio-political contexts in which they thrive and the various means through which these religions are channeled to their audiences and adherents. The focus on media and ‘popular culture’ signals the course’s aim to include in anthropological understandings of religion some of the important insights that come from the field of cultural studies. These insights can be summarized here as the need to include in anthropological understandings of contemporary societies, the effects that film, music, radio, social media and so forth have in the shaping of power relations between groups of people. 
Entry requirements
Prerequisite knowledge
First year BA courses in the field of Social Sciences. Knowledge of anthropological categories and methods and a general understanding of contemporary anthropological/sociological discussions.
Required materials
Online reader with key-texts.
Klassen, C., Religion and Popular Culture: a cultural studies approach. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014. ISBN: 9780195449181
Title:Religion and Popular Culture: a cultural studies approach
Author:Chris Klassen
Publisher:Oxford University Press
Instructional formats

Field trip


Class session preparation
During the lectures documentary films will be shown to clarify and illustrate the course material.

Small-group session

Test weight45
Minimum grade5.5

Test weight10
Minimum grade5.5

Take-home prelim
Test weight45
Minimum grade5.5

Kies de Nederlandse taal