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About us Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies Education Bachelor Minors

Law and Religion: Anthropological Approaches

ECTS: 7,5

Anthropologists have long been concerned with social order and the institutions, persons, and forms of authority that contribute to its maintenance (or, indeed, its disruption). This has led to a longstanding ethnographic interest in both religion and law. While early anthropologists debated whether or not stateless societies could be said to ‘have’ law, today’s legal anthropologists are more likely to study the interaction of normative regimes, including religious practices, which may be independent, mutually reinforcing, or even at odds with state-backed law. This course introduces students to the anthropological overlap of law and religion, with a particular focus on the rise of human rights discourse in both scholarly and popular circles. Beginning with theoretical questions concerning the foundations of human rights, their global applicability, and the meaning of ‘human’, we will move on to discuss case studies centred on the right to religious freedom; gendered bodies and religious obligation; and the use of rights-based rhetoric to challenge liberal politics.

Last modified:19 July 2019 11.29 a.m.
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