BA Comparative Religion and Social Anthropology

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Lived Religion: Places, Practices, Bodies, Objects

Course unit fact file
Unit code RELT31212
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


Religion cannot be separated from the bodies that practice it, the places they inhabit, and the objects they use. The study of ‘lived religion’ is an exciting and experimental field, which explores how religion is practiced in everyday life, as opposed to the traditional study of creeds, hierarchies and texts. In this module, you’ll pay close attention to the sights, sounds, smells and objects encountered in embodied and emplaced religious practices, and analyse theoretical approaches to place, landscape and diaspora, embodiment, senses and material culture. You’ll explore the internal diversity within the traditions of Christianity, Hinduism and Buddhism through a number of in-depth geographically and historically situated case studies


· To familiarise students with the concept and scholarship of lived religion

· To introduce students to a number of case studies that offer in-depth engagement with major and minor world religious traditions, in their geographical, social, cultural and historical contexts

· To equip students with the tools to employ the theory of lived religion when discussing specific case studies

· To develop students’ critical reflection on the role of place, practices, bodies and material objects in lived religion

Knowledge and understanding

By the end of this course students should be able to:

· Identify a number of theoretical approaches in the study of to ‘lived religion’

· Demonstrate an awareness that religion is historically and geographically contextual

· Demonstrate a greater awareness of the internal diversity of major and minor world religions

Intellectual skills

By the end of this course students should be able to:

· Think critically about the internal diversity of religion and how this affects the modern-day world

· Effectively analyse case studies of religious practices in their geographical and historical context

· Evaluate critical arguments advanced by lived religion theoretical approaches

Practical skills

On successful completion of this course, students will have developed their skills in:

• Critical reading and application in development of an argument

• Preparing and delivering oral presentations

• Team work through group presentations

• Independent approach to research

Transferable skills and personal qualities

On successful completion of this course, students will have developed their skills in:

• Conducting independent research

• Critical reflection

• Team work

• Self-organisation skills and an ability to plan research in order to meet course deadlines

• Effective oral and written communication skills.

Employability skills

¿ Oral and written communication skills ¿ Team work ¿ Managing deadlines ¿ Critical thinking ¿ Ability to empathise with, listen to, and respond to different perspectives

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written assignment (inc essay) 50%
Oral assessment/presentation 50%

Feedback methods

Feedback method Formative or Summative

Written feedback Formative

Written feedback on essays and presentation Summative

Oral feedback on presentation from peers and

staff Summative

Additional feedback in office hours Formative and summative

Recommended reading

Ammerman, Nancy Tatom, Studying Lived Religion: Contexts and Practices (New York: New York University Press, 2021)

Gasparini, Valentino, Patzelt, Maik, Raja, Rubina, Rieger, Anna-Katharina, Rüpke, Jörg and Urciuoli, Emiliano. Lived Religion in the Ancient Mediterranean World: Approaching Religious Transformations from Archaeology, History and Classics. (Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter, 2020)

Knibbe, Kim, & Kupari, Helena (2020) “Theorizing lived religion: introduction”, Journal of Contemporary Religion, 35:2, 157-176 Knott, Kim, The Location of Religion: A spatial analysis (London: Routledge 2005)

McGuire, Meredith, Lived Religion: Faith and Practice in Everyday Life (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008)

Orsi, Robert A. (2003), ‘Is the Study of Lived Religion Irrelevant to the World We Live in? Special Presidential Plenary Address, Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, Salt Lake City, November 2, 2002’, Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 42:2, 169-174

Whitehead, Amy (2020) ‘A method of ‘things’: a relational theory of objects as persons in lived religious practice’, Journal of Contemporary Religion, 35:2, 231-250,

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 22
Seminars 11
Independent study hours
Independent study 167

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Sarah Parkhouse Unit coordinator

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