Religion in a Global World

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Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation CoreSGA1EL2044

Semester and Year Offered: 3RD Semester, second year

Course Coordinator and Team: Santosh K. Singh

Email of course coordinator:

Pre-requisites: As per university norms

Aim: To INTRODUCE the students to contemporary issues and questions around the idea of religion and its practices

Course Outcomes:

  1. Familiarise the students to the diversity within religious traditions
  2. Make the students aware of the idea of religion as “personal “space against the dominant focus on its organized forms.
  3. To arrive at a more compassionate, informed and sensitive understanding of the “others”


Brief description of modules/ Main modules:

Unit1. What is religion? Meanings, disenchantment and the responses to the Enlightenment project

The module introduces the idea of religion from a broad sociological lens. It discusses the idea of enlightenment and science and their relationship with religion. More significantly it attempts to understand the revival of religion in public life as a response to disillusionment with the project of scientism.

Unit2. Understanding the evolutionary trajectories of religion: (Islam, Hinduism, Christianity, Sikhism, Jainism, Buddhism and Folk religion):

The section traces the journey of various religious traditions, including folk religions, in an evolutionary framework.

(The module will be transacted in a workshop mode, followed by group presentations by the students.)

Unit3. Religion as protest from the margin

Religion has been a powerful force of rebel and dissent against the established and exclusionary practices. The module highlights this dimension of religion through some examples from India.

Unit4.Violence in the name of religion

Religion’s relation with violence is the key theme of our time. The module intends to understand the phenomenon through brief discussions around tropes such as secularism, nationalism and ethnic identity formations.

Unit 5. Environment, Religion and beyond the “organized”

The module aims to invite students to engage with other connections of human life with religion. One such theme is relationship of religion with nature and environment. The module intends to critically engage with the overbearing presence of organized religions in our understanding of religion as the only trope. Discussion on Gandhi and Tagore helps illuminate this aspect.

Unit 6. Globalization and Religion

The module, in the end, strings together the multiple perspectives discussed above in the broad framework of globalization and what it does to the very idea of religion and religious identities.

Assessment Details with weights:

  1. Group presentation: 20%
  2. Field visit: 30% (The Field here would imply student visits to sites of religiosity, to essentially observe and study the people, practices and the phenomenon associated with the place ( It will not be a compulsory component, to respect the atheists/non believers). The students will then present their reflections in the class room.
  3. Term paper: 20%
  4. End semester: 30%


Reading List:

  1. Durkheim, Emile. 1915. Elementary forms of Religious life. London. George Allen and Unwin. (Chapter 1)
  2. H.H. Gerth and C. Wright Mills (Translated and edited). 1946. from Max Weber: Essays in Sociology. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 129-156.
  3. Sweetman, Brendan. 2007. Religion: Key concepts in Philosophy. Continuum.
  4. Mittal, Sushil and Gene Thursby. 2018. Religions of India: An Introduction. New York: Routledge.
  5. Zaehner R.C. 1966. Hinduism. New York: Oxford University Press.
  6. Madan.T.N. 1992. Religion in India. New Delhi: Oxford University Press.
  7. Robinson, Rowena 2004 Sociology of Religion in India. New Delhi: Sage.
  8. Jurgensmeyer, Mark. 1988, Religious rebels in the Punjab: The social vision of untouchable. Delhi: Ajanta.
  9. Singh, Santosh Kumar. 2011. ‘Globalization and religious identity in India: Understanding the subaltern context of the sacred’. In Mihaela Gligor and Sherry Sabbarwal (ed.) Patterns in Philosophy and Sociology of Religion. Delhi/ Jaipur: Rawat Publishers.
  10. Fuchs, Martin. 2019. Dharma and the Common good: Religion as Problem and Answer- Ambedkar’s critical theory of Social rationality. In Martin Fuchs and Vasudha Dalmia (ed.) Religious Interactions in Modern India. Delhi: Oxford University Press.
  11. Brass, P. 1998. ‘Secularism out of its place’, Contribution to Indian Sociology.
  12. Jafferlot, C. 2009. ‘Religion and Nationalism’ in Clarke, P.B. (ed.) The Oxford Handbook of the Sociology of Religion. Oxford: OUP.
  13. Vanaik, Achin. 2017. The Rise of Hindu Authoritarianism, Secular Claims, Communal Realities. London: Verso.
  14. Peter Van der Veer. 1997. Gods on Earth: Religious Experiences and identity in Ayodhya. Delhi: Oxford University Press.
  15. Dunlap Th .R. 2004. Faith in nature: environmentalism as religious quest. Seattle: University of Washington Press.
  16. Glaysher, Frederick. 2011. “The Poet’s Religion of Rabindranath Tagore” in the Rupkatha Journal on Interdisciplinary Studies in Humanities (ISSN 0975—2935), Vol.3 No.4. PP 400-416.
  17. Guha R. 2006. How much should a Person consume? Environmentalism in India and the United States. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  18. Jordens, J. 1998. Gandhi’s religion: A homespun shawl. UK: Palgrave Macmillan.
  19. Melissa, Wilcox (ed.) 2012. Religion in Today’s world: Global issues, Sociological perspectives. Routledge.
  20. Kanungo, Pralay.2007 ‘Globalization, the Diaspora and Hindutva’, in Bhupinder Brar et al (Ed.)
  21. Globalization and the Politics of Identity in India, New Delhi: Pearson.
  22. Berger, L. Peter. 2005. Global Pluralism and religion. Studios’ Publicos.98 (Autumn 2005)