Course Description

Course Name

Approaching the Sacred: Anthropology of Religion in Brazil

Session: VFPS1120

Hours & Credits

54 Contact Hours

Prerequisites & Language Level



A vital human and social phenomenon, religion is certainly as ancient as the first human communities. Be it in the form of grand institutionalized religions such as Christianity or Islam (often thriving along with large empires), or be it in less rigidly organized forms of religiosity, human beings have been on a quest for answers pertaining to the origins of their existence, the whys and hows of natural catastrophes, the fate of their beloved ones upon their departure from life. These critically human existential anxieties have given rise to varying registers of the sacred, differing modes and moods of addressing the world of sacred things; different forms of offerings, celebrating, paying homage, experiencing and knowing sacred beings and forces. This course introduces the meaning of religion as a fundamentally human and social phenomenon, and analyzes key religious traditions in Brazil and their historical reconfiguration. Furthermore, the course aims at a comparative global perspective on the significance and potential role of religion in the XXI century.
  • Understand the relationship between religion and society;
  • Learn about different phenomenological dimensions of religious experience (space, things, words, bodies, groups, performances);
  • Comprehend the nexus between religion and Brazilian identity;
  • Analyze religion in contemporary Brazilian society;
  • Acquire a global, comparative perspective on the role and meaning of religion today.
To be suggested along the lectures in order to reach the course aims. Articles, textbooks and different book chapters are provided to students as a rule.
The approval is conditioned to the performance expected in the following:
  • Final Exam: 40%
  • Seminar presentations: 25%;
  • Assignments: 25%
  • Participation in Class, Punctuality and Attendance = 10%


To be approved, the student must have a minimum of 70% of improvement and 75% of class frequency. The student cannot be absent on up to 25% of classes.In case of injury or sickness the absence of the student will not count if he presents a medical certificate. In this context, the classroom assignments shall be sent via e-mail to him. When the student joins back his group, the professor is instructed to pay extra attention to him/her in the process of catching up with the class.

*Course content subject to change