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Methodology in Religious Education

Session Chair: N.N. | Friday, August 28, 3:30-5:30 p.m. | Venue

Oddrun M. H. Bråten

A methodology for comparative studies in Religious Education

I will discuss problematic sides of doing comparative studies in the diverse field of Religious Education (RE), and use perspectives from a suggested methodology for such studies to argue for the usefulness of comparative efforts. Since many challenges to Religious Education are the same across national borders, I argue that comparative studies should focus on the impact of supranational influences on national contexts, while at the same time taking the depth of the national imaginaries seriously. More attention to international and comparative perspectives has potential to enhance the understanding of what is happening in RE domestically. The methodology combines two ideas, firstly that in comparative studies one should consider supranational, national and subnational processes, and secondly that in order to capture the depth of the national cases one should consider four levels of curriculum. In my argument, I will make use of examples from recent publications (Bråten 2013, 2014a, 2014b).

Anna Lúcia Collyer Adamovicz

Religion & Education in the First Brazilian Republic: Baptist Press Perspectives, 1901-1930

The present paper intends to focus on the way the Baptist Press developed an extensive journalistic production in Brazil between1901 and 1930, which was committed to report on the progress made by the Protestant Movement of the time, giving prominence to the overview of formal and religious Education nationwide. The research employs the theoretical-methodological instrumental of the New Cultural History, utilizes the Baptist Journal as primary source and objective of investigation, and it aims to discuss different issues relating to the historical development of Protestantism in Brazil. It approaches the denominational press as a channel for wider dissemination of missionaries’ religious precepts and cultural values, functioning as an important instrument for evangelization, religious training and instruction of new converts. One of the research main goals is to examine how this journal of national scope promoted the growth of Baptist missionary and educational work established in Brazil since 1882.

Arun Rasiah

Seminaries of the Orient: Re/formations of Islamic Learning

Narratives of the madrasa as a “school of hate” displace histories of knowledge formation in the Muslim world by projecting an absence of reason onto Islamic institutions, disciplines, and methodologies. This negation of reason constructs intrinsic Muslim irrationality and serves as essentialist justification for military force. Premised on epistemological erasure, the embodiment of negative reason subjects Muslims to discursive violence, establishing theoretical terrain for physical destruction. However, Muslim institutions of learning famously circulated forms of rationalist knowledge and provided the route by which Hellenistic thought, reconstructed in Arabic commentaries, resurfaced in Latin universities. This paper traces how madrasas have also engaged at different historical moments with “Eastern” traditions of Persian, Indian, and Chinese philosophy, enabling a crosspollination of ideas across sites of Asian interaction. In these locations Islamic institutions of learning have enabled cosmopolitan configurations of reason that eviscerate the recurring Orientalist image of the seminary steeped in archaic literalism.

Melanie Prideaux

Place-based pedagogy and reciprocal research relations in the undergraduate study of religions

In the undergraduate religious studies classroom at Leeds University we introduce students to the complexity of religion in locality. One of the most engaging ways to do this is through a place-based pedagogy utilising independent fieldwork as part of the learning process. However undergraduates, like seasoned researchers, must learn to balance and understand the way insider representations influence academic interpretations, and the way their academic interpretations and representations can lead to change in the community being studied. Engaging with ‘reciprocal research relations’ as a way to navigate this terrain introduces students to the human impacts of their research and develops their self-awareness as researchers and ‘religion’ specialists. This paper will draw on experience and practice, including commentary from students and local community members, to build an understanding of the interaction between place-based pedagogy and reciprocal research relations which informs both teaching and research in the study of religion.


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