Religion and Social Change in Southeast Asia

Course Name : Religion and Social Change in Southeast Asia
Course Code : SPSAGXXX
Units : 3

In recent decades, Southeast Asia has undergone profound political, economic, and social transformations. This course’s purpose is to examine the relationship between religion and social change and how religion, in its many forms, has played a role in both affecting these changes and responding to these changes. Building upon both anthropological and sociological approaches to religion and ritual, the course will engage cases from mainland and insular Southeast Asia to explore such issues as whether the recent changes confirm or refute Max Weber’s argument regarding the relationship between modernity and “disenchantment”; the ways in which religion and ritual have been employed to cope with change and indeterminacy, notably in economic affairs; the innovative intersections between gender, religion, and ritual; the ways in which nation-states have employed religion and ritual to shore up their legitimacy; and the ways in which religion and ritual have been employed to express resistance and/or clash of civilization. The cases will include the “world religions,” such as Islam, Christianity and Buddhism, as well as local indigenous ritual and religious practices. By course’s end, students should have a firm grounding in anthropological and sociological approaches to religion and ritual as well as a deeper understanding of their interesting and dynamic characteristics in contemporary Southeast Asia.