Course: MARY AFST 586: Sociology of Development/Underdevelopment and African Religion

Course Overview:
This course interrelates various religions in East Africa and the socioeconomic development in colonial and postcolonial periods. It sees religion as a key factor in sustainable development and draws on concrete examples from Africa. Directed field research will bring the students into direct contact with development leaders and projects in Kenya.

Course Description:
Until recently, religion was seen from various perspectives as an insignificant in the economic and political dimensions of life. Many Marxists dismissed it as a mere ideological tool of the ruling classes over the poor. Modernizers on the other hand saw the connection at most as an indirect one with religion contributing to the changing of people’s attitude ands and personalities. This course aims at showing the direct connection between religion and the economic and political development of the people’s of East Africa. It will do this based upon a theoretical framework of articulated modes of production. Both the explicit and implicit connections between traditional, Christian and Islamic religions with economic and political development will be explored.

Students will also participate in field research aimed at understanding the various approaches to development at both micro and macro level. This will include interviews with ministerial level personnel, international aid agencies as well as people involved in grassroots socioeconomic projects.