PLANTS AND RELIGION (RAHS-5700)
Spring 2021, Thursdays, 2:10–5:00 PM
3 hours

Course Description

What would the history of religion look like from the perspective of plants? From the grapes and wheat entangled in Jewish and Christian liturgies, to the history of coffee and caffeine in Islam, to the presence of peyote and psilocybin in different indigenous traditions, this seminar draws on work from the “New Materialisms” (Donna Haraway, Anna Tsing, Isabelle Stengers) to redraw planetary spirituality in an era of climate change. The course is emphatically NOT an exercise in reducing religious experience to mere biochemistry (à la Terrence McKenna’s “stoned ape” theory), but to contextualize religion as a symbiotic flowering that has co-evolved within a “vibrant” natural world (Jane Bennett), that shimmers with other agencies and different ontologies. Central concerns with colonization and problems of cultural appropriation will frame the more recent western fascination with sacred plants, from 1960’s counter-cultures to the current so-called psychedelic renaissance. Guest speakers; oral presentation; Final Research Paper. Audience: MA, PhD

Teachers / Speakers

Devin Zuber

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