Compulsory course: Religion, Culture and Society in Africa

Course content

Drawing on the traditions of both the humanities and social sciences, this course studies religion and culture in Africa in their social contexts. The course focuses on religious and cultural phenomena in modern Africa, the importance of African cultural heritage for contemporary Africans, the interaction between local and global religious trends as they manifest on the African continent, and connections between religious and cultural movements and social, political and economic dynamics in Africa.  


MA in African Studies

Learning outcome
  • Knowledge of significant aspects of the cultural, religious and social dimensions of contemporary Africa and of the social and political significance of African cultural heritage in particular in relation to large-scale trends such as migration and urbanization.
  • Knowledge of the interaction between local African and global religious and cultural actors and developments
  • Skills in identifying and discussing the contemporary significance, utilization and reshaping of African religious and cultural traditions
  • Skills in analysing African religious and cultural phenomena in their societal contexts
  • Skills in undertaking interdisciplinary analysis using literature and other relevant material on Africa’s religions and cultures
  • Competences to conduct independent, interdisciplinary and critical analysis of the local and global significance of religion and culture in Africa based on relevant theoretical approaches and empirical material

The course is organised in sessions of 2 hours twice per week over 7 weeks in the first half of the second semester. The course will be based on lectures combined with classroom discussions, requiring an active participation from the students.

Suggested literature:


Emily Callaci, Street Arhives and City Life: Popular Intellectuals in Postcolonial Tanzania, Duke University Press, 2017


Stephan Miescher, Making Men in Ghana, Bloomington, Indiana University Press, 2005.


Isak Niehaus, Witchcraft and a Life in the New South Africa, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2013.


Insa Nolte, Olukoya Ogen and Rebecca Jones (eds.), Beyond Religious Tolerance: Muslim, Christian and Traditionalist Encounters in an African Town, James Currey, 2017.


Adeline Masquelier, Women and Islamic Revival in a West African Town, Bloomington, Indiana University Press, 2009.


Ben Jones, Beyond the State in Rural Uganda, Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press, 2009.


Paul Richards, Ebola. How a People’s Science Helped End an Epidemic, London, Zed Books, 2016.

The course is only open for CAS MA students and professional master students.

Feedback by final exam (In addition to the grade)
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Oral exam prepared on the basis of a selected exam question. A number of exam questions are defined and provided by the course lecturer seven days before the oral exam. The oral exam is 25 minutes long including assessment.
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
External censorship
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 28
  • Preparation
  • 122
  • Exam Preparation
  • 59
  • Exam
  • 1
  • English
  • 210