Interdisciplinary Approaches to Religion and History in the Pre-Modern World: Encounter and Conflict
Why is Jerusalem still such a contested place? What are the reasons for the systematic destruction by the Islamic State (IS) of the cultural heritage of the past? Why do sacred texts produced centuries ago continue to shape the lives of people today? How are they used and abused? Why does the sword sometimes replace the word in religious matters? How did religious groups, ideas and artefacts travel from one continent to another and how did that migration transform them? In other words, how did religious conflicts and encounters shape the modern world and why do they still matter today?
These are some of the topics MF Norwegian School of Theology tackles in its new M.Phil programme in History of Religions, with a primary focus on Religion in the Pre-Modern World: Encounters and Conflicts.
The programme is focused on the issues of religious cross-pollination, coexistence and conflict in three target areas: Europe, South-East Asia and the Middle East. Addressed in a long historical perspective stretching from Late Antiquity to the European Renaissance, the programme seeks to illuminate the roots of present peaceful coexistence and interchange, as well as of today’s antagonisms and conflicts. The underlying idea of the programme is that, in order to fully grasp current religious conflicts and alliances, we need to understand how the perceptions of past and present are intertwined, reciprocally dependent and constantly reshaped.
Based on a multidisciplinary approach and applying various theoretical frameworks and interpretative methods, the core courses of the programme aim to reveal historical dynamics, privileging ‘how’ and tentatively ‘why’ over ‘who’ and ‘when’.
The programme is conceived at the intersection between political history and history of religions, but relies also on other disciplines, such as the history of ideas, art history and archaeology. These are meant to provide the depth of field expected in Big History by illustrating and clarifying the macro-historical perspectives.
Teaching and learning are driven by a hands-on and case-oriented attitude and core courses are complemented by lectures and seminars of theory and method.
The programme is open to all students with a BA in related disciplines (history, religious studies, theology, archaeology, art history, social sciences, etc.).
The programme coordinator is Victor Ghica, Professor of Antiquity and Early Christian Studies. The core courses of the programme will be taught by Kristin B. Aavitsland, Professor of Cultural History, Liv Ingeborg Lied, Professor of the