This course takes a panoramic view of religion and politics, focusing on several historical periods and world regions. More than an emphasis on theologies or beliefs, we will examine religious organizations and how they interact with state structures. As such, the more appropriate title for the course might be "Church & State in World History," with "church" being a generic simplifying term that includes synagogue, mosque, temple, etc. Our goal is to understand how various religious institutions, actors and values affect political behavior, and, conversely, how the political actors and institutions affect religious practice. This course will also take a "political economy" perspective to the study of religion, religious institutions, politics, and governments. The emphasis will be on how humans interact with the incentive structures in their environment. Hopefully, not only will you learn empirical content related to religion and politics, but you will pick up concepts related to "the economic way of thinking."
Given the limitations of the 10-week quarter system, we will not be able to cover all the important questions raised in the study of religion and politics around the world, nor will we cover all religious traditions equally. Please be advised of this. Such a course would only be able to address deeper theoretical issues in a superficial manner, substituting depth for breadth. Readings and lectures will be drawn largely from the Christian experience, though we will touch upon Islam and Judaism at points in the class. The intention of the professor is to provide you with a basic familiarity with the literature and, more importantly, the intellectual tools to pursue your own studies of the subject matter.
Grading will consist of two in-class essay exams, section participation, and a short take-home essay.
Prof. Gill was the recipient of the UW Distinguished Teaching Award in 1999.