Checking date: 26/04/2024

Course: 2024/2025

Religion and cultural construction
Bachelor in Cultural Studies (Plan: 435 - Estudio: 364)

Coordinating teacher: GASPARINI , VALENTINO

Department assigned to the subject: Humanities: History, Geography and Art Department

Type: Compulsory
ECTS Credits: 6.0 ECTS


Requirements (Subjects that are assumed to be known)
No requirements
This course deals with the phenomenon of religion as a cultural construct in permanent interaction with the remaining cultural production. It is a very effective tool that elaborates intellectual constructions (stories of various kinds, including myths) designed to provide answers to the concerns arising from conscious existence. A universe of beliefs that gives meaning to a community that relates individually and in groups with supernatural beings through formalized actions, namely rituals. Beliefs and rituals are specific tools for the construction of identities. Identity, as a sense of belonging, constitutes a framework of protection for the individual who feels that he or she is part of a group. Religion is at the epicentre of all intercommunity conflicts, as it is the core of the ideological superstructure that supports the socio-economic and political structures that determine relations with other communities. Under these conditions it is easy to attribute responsibility for conflicts to religion, which reduces and simplifies the analysis. The interaction between religion and culture is therefore the focus of this subject.
Skills and learning outcomes
Description of contents: programme
1. Pre- and protohistory. The origins of religious thought: abstraction, language, representation. 2. Egypt and Mesopotamia. The ideological supports of the first states: religion and cultural production; the identification of the status quo with divine will; theocracy and sacrilege. 3. Middle East. The supposed ideological-religious opposition of the Indo-European and Semitic worlds: integration or extermination of foreign gods 4. Religion in the Axial Age (800-200 BC): Lao Tzu, Confucius and the philosophers of the Warring States; Hinduism, Brahmins and Gautama Buddha; etc 5. Religion in the Axial Age (800-200 BC): Zoroaster and Mazdeism; prophetic Judaism; etc 6. Archaic and classical Greece. Greek philosophy and religion from the pre-Socratics to sophistry. 7. The Hellenistic Mediterranean. Political and religious conflicts: the definition of dogma and the new cultural order. 8. The Hellenistic Mediterranean. The conflict between religious praxis and theological production. 9. The Hellenistic Mediterranean. Universal gods for global empires: the great religious and cultural transformation. 10. The religion of the Roman Empire. Social changes and identity conflicts: retraction of old religious institutions, preachers, new religions. 11. The religion of the Roman Empire. The religious agency: space and time. 12. The religion of the Roman Empire. Cultural appropriation, religious experience and the body. 13. The religion of the Roman Empire. Territorial, ethnic and cultural identities: juxtaposition, interferences, conflicts. 14. The religion of the Roman Empire. Human-divine communication and materiality. 15. The religion of the Roman Empire. Performativity and theatricalization. 16. The religion of the Roman Empire. Polytheisms vs. Monotheisms? The construction of divine power. 17. The religion of the Roman Empire. The triumph of monotheisms; innovation-fundamentalism dialectic in Judaism; Jesus of Nazareth and the Pauline invention of a new religion; Christianity and classical philosophy. 18. The religion of the Roman Empire. Habitus, Embeddedness, Religious marketplace, Resonance, Collective effervescence, Communitas. 19. The religion of the Roman Empire. The polis-religion. 20. The religion of the Roman Empire. Folk, personal, popular, vernacular religion. 21. The religion of the Roman Empire. The Lived Religion and the Urban religion. 22. Late Antiquity and Middle Ages. Religious imperialisms and cultural renewal of the Mediterranean: Imperium romanum; Holy Land as a paradigm of a religious conflict sustained over time; cultural foundations of Islamic monotheism. 23. Middle Ages. The perpetuation of Christianity beyond the fall of the Roman Empire: political and cultural keys to a supposedly religious phenomenon; the identity of political power with a lineage, a creed and a territory. 24. Middle Ages and Modern Age. Reform and counter-reform. Ethical-religious agents to explain a broken Europe; socioeconomic dynamics and ideological change; a multi-religious Europe on the margins of a multicultural Mediterranean. 25. Modern and Contemporary Age. Global policies, regional imbalances, inequality, conscience, conflict, armed struggle, terrorism: the excuse of religion.
Learning activities and methodology
Educational activities and teaching methodologies: - Teacher's lectures with computer and audiovisual media support, in which the main concepts of the subject will be developed and the bibliography will be provided to complement the students' learning. - Critical reading of texts recommended by the teacher of the course: press articles, reports, manuals and/or academic articles, either for further discussion in class, or to expand and consolidate the knowledge of the subject. - Resolution of practical cases, problems, etc. raised by the teacher individually or in groups. - Specific tutorials to discuss and prepare the presentation of individual works and materials. - Exhibition and discussion in class, under the moderation of the teacher, of topics related to the content of the subject, as well as of practical cases. - Preparation of papers and reports individually or in groups.
Assessment System
  • % end-of-term-examination 50
  • % of continuous assessment (assigments, laboratory, practicals...) 50

Calendar of Continuous assessment

Extraordinary call: regulations
Basic Bibliography
  • Albrecht, Janico et al.. Religion in the Making: The Lived Ancient Religion Approach. Religion 48(4), pp. 568¿593. 2018
  • C. Sourvinou-Inwood. What is polis Religion?. R. Buxton (ed.), Oxford readings in Greek religion. 2000
  • C.A. Barton & D. Boyarin. Introduction: What You Can See When You Stop Looking for What Isn¿t There. Imagine No Religion. How Modern Abstractions Hide Ancient Realities. Fordham University Press. 2016
  • E. Eidinow. Networks and Narratives: A Model for Ancient Greek Religion. Kernos 24, pp. 9-38. 2011
  • E.R. Urciuoli. Citification of Religion: A Proposal for the Historical Study of Urban Religion. 2020
  • Emirbayer, Mustafa & Ann Mische. What is Agency?. The American Journal of Sociology 103(4), pp. 962¿1023. 1998
  • G. Woolf. Global deities: Gods on the move in the Ancient Mediterranean World. Bandúe IX, pp. 111-128. 2018-2019
  • H. Rosa. Resonancia. Una sociología de la relación con el mundo. Katz Barpal. 2019
  • J. Kindt. Polis Religion. A Critical Appreciation. Kernos 22, pp. . 2009
  • K. Armstrong. La gran transformación: el mundo en la época de Buda, Sócrates, Confucio y Jeremías. Ediciones Paidós. 2007
Recursos electrónicosElectronic Resources *
Additional Bibliography
  • F. Lozano Gómez. Unlikely Imperial Gods: A Reflection on Some Unexpected Results of the Integration of Emperors into Local Greek Panthea. E. Muñiz-Grijalvo & R. Moreno Soldevila (eds.), Understanding Integration in the Roman World, Brill, pp. 193-211. 2023
  • J. Alvar & C. Martínez. Los misterios en la controversia católico-protestante. P. Barceló, J.J. Ferrer e I. Rodríguez (eds.), Fundamentalismo político y religioso: de la Antigüedad a la edad moderna. Universitat Jaume I, pp. 147-168.. 2003
  • J. Alvar Ezquerra. Problemas metodológicos sobre el préstamo religioso. Boletín de Antropología Americana 24, pp. 123-142. 1991
  • J. Rüpke. Establishing self-world relations in socio-religious practices. Looking at Roman religious communication. ARYS 18, pp. 19-50.. 2020
  • R. Gordon. The Roman Imperial Cult and the Question of Power. J.A. North and S.R.F. Price (eds.), The Religious History of the Roman Empire. Pagans, Jews, and Christians, pp. 37-70.. 2011
  • R. Stark. Religious Competition and Roman Piety. IJRR 2, pp. 2-30.. 2006
  • V. Gasparini. Religious Agency and Time Regimes in the Roman Empire: The Cult of Anubis as a Case Study. Numen 68, pp. 39-76. 2021
  • V. Gasparini. Isis' Footprints: The Petrosomatoglyphs as Spatial Indicators of Human-Divine Encounters. A. Alvar Nuño, J. Alvar Ezquerra & Greg Woolf (eds.), SENSORIVM. The Senses in Roman Polytheism, Leiden & Boston, pp. 272-365. 2021
  • V. Gasparini. Listening stones. Cultural appropriation, resonance, and memory in the Isaac cults. V. Gasparini 8ed.), Vestigia. Miscellanea di studi storico-religiosi in onore di Filippo Coarelli nel suo 80' anniversario, Stuttgart, pp. 555-574. 2016
  • V. Gasparini. Les acteurs sur scène. Théâtre et théâtralisation dans les cultes isiaques. V. Gasparini & R. Veymiers (eds.), Individuals and Materials in the Greco-Roman Cults of Isis, Leuden & Bioston, pp. 714-746. 2018
  • V. Gasparini. Risonanza somatica, ovvero il corpo rituale come strategia di ottimizzazione del potere divino. Vestigia e Ohrenweihungen. E. Mariotti, A. Salvi & J. Tabolli (eds.), Il Santuario ritrovato, 2., pp. 385-393. 2023
Recursos electrónicosElectronic Resources *
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The course syllabus may change due academic events or other reasons.