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210150 SE BAK15 East European Studies (2018W)

Religion, State and Society in the former Soviet Union

6.00 ECTS (2.00 SWS), SPL 21 - Politikwissenschaft
Continuous assessment of course work

A registration via u:space during the registration phase is required. Late registrations are NOT possible.
Students who miss the first lesson without prior notification will lose their seat in the course.

Follow the principles of good scientific practice.

The course instructor may invite students to an oral exam about the student’s written contributions in the course. Plagiarized contributions have the consequence that the course won’t be graded (instead the course will be marked with an ‘X’ in the transcript of records).


Note: The time of your registration within the registration period has no effect on the allocation of places (no first come, first serve).


max. 50 participants
Language: English


Classes (iCal) - next class is marked with N

Thursday 04.10. 09:30 - 13:00 Hörsaal 1 (H1), NIG 2.Stock
Friday 05.10. 09:30 - 13:00 Hörsaal 1 (H1), NIG 2.Stock
Friday 19.10. 09:45 - 16:30 Hörsaal 1 (H1), NIG 2.Stock
Friday 09.11. 09:45 - 16:30 Hörsaal 1 (H1), NIG 2.Stock
Friday 07.12. 13:15 - 16:30 Hörsaal 2 (H2), NIG 2.Stock


Aims, contents and method of the course

Aims, contents and method of the course
After the dissolution of the Soviet Union its former citizens tended to understand religion as a form of national culture and tradition rather than a spiritual directive. Yet, the processes of religious revival and religion’s increased presence in public life have made the leaders of the now independent states struggle practically and ideologically to determine the relationship between state and religion.

Following an introduction to general academic debates on the topic the course will focus on the role of religion in contemporary politics and society in the post-Soviet space. The main part of the course dwells on three major topicsusing cases from Caucasus and Central Asia: the securitization of Islam, religious identities and mobilization and finally the function of religion in state/nation building. Students will explore the different roles religion play for various religious and secular actors and how these roles, either real or envisioned sometimes can be conflicting. This will deepen the students’ knowledge about the regional and domestic political situation in these contexts in general and provide an understanding of the complex relationships between religion, state and society in particular. In addition the course will familiarize students with a number of useful theoretical approaches and concepts that can be used in the analysis of state-religion relations as well as for the study of other political processes.

The seminars will include short introductions to the topic, but build primarily on the students’ active partaking. Students are required to have completed the readings before class and come prepared to engage in seminar discussions that will take place both in small working groups and the class as a whole.

Assessment and permitted materials

To pass the course, the assignments should be successfully completed and all sessions must be attended.

Minimum requirements and assessment criteria

Students have to submit three short written assignments (1000 words each) over the course of the semester reflecting and elaborating on the content of the literature. Apart from the written assignments (40%), students have write a research report (50% of grade), focused on an issue of their choice, demonstrating their advanced understanding of one of the course’s three major topics. Finally in students will prepare a group presentation (10% of grade). This entails the presentation of their own brief analysis of a particular question as well as leading a discussion on the topic in the class.

Examination topics

Readings and seminar discussions.

Reading list

Reading list
Full list will be announced on Moodle

Selected readings:
Bedford, S. Islamic Opposition in Azerbaijan: Discursive Conflicts and Beyond. In Simons, Greg and David Westerlund (eds.) Religion, Politics and Nation-Building in Post-Communist Countries. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2015: 155-187
Huntington, S. "The clash of civilizations?."Foreign affairs(1993): 22-49.
Juergensmeyer, M. "Antifundamentalism."Fundamentalisms comprehended5 (1995).
Khalid, A. "A secular Islam: nation, state, and religion in Uzbekistan."International Journal of Middle East Studies35.4 (2003): 573-598.
Lemon, E.J. "Building resilient secular citizens: Tajikistan’s response to the Islamic State."Caucasus Survey 4.3 (2016): 261-281.
Louw, M. E.Everyday Islam in Post-Soviet Central Asia. Routledge, 2007. (Chapter 2-3)
Menchik, Jeremy. "Soft Separation Democracy."Politics and Religion(2018): 1-21.
Omelicheva, M. (2011) Islam in Kazakhstan: a survey of contemporary
trends and sources of securitization, Central Asian Survey, 30:2, 243-256
Tarrow, S. (1994) Power in Movement. Social Movements and Contentious Politics. Second Edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (Chapter 1).
Wiktorowicz, Q (2002) Islamic Activism and Social Movement Theory: A New Direction for Research, Mediterranean Politics, 7:3, 187-211,
Wæver, O.Securitization and desecuritization. Copenhagen: Centre for Peace and Conflict Research, 1993.

Association in the course directory

Last modified: Mo 07.09.2020 15:38