EU475      Half Unit
Religion and Secularism, Diversity and Conflict in Europe: Identities, Religion, and Culture

This information is for the 2023/24 session.

Teacher responsible

Tahir Rashid


This course is available on the MSc in Comparative Politics, MSc in Culture and Conflict in a Global Europe, MSc in Culture and Conflict in a Global Europe (LSE & Sciences Po), MSc in Empires, Colonialism and Globalisation, MSc in European and International Public Policy, MSc in European and International Public Policy (LSE and Bocconi), MSc in European and International Public Policy (LSE and Sciences Po), MSc in History of International Relations, MSc in International Migration and Public Policy, MSc in International Migration and Public Policy (LSE and Sciences Po), MSc in Political Science (Conflict Studies and Comparative Politics), MSc in Social Anthropology (Religion in the Contemporary World) and MSc in Theory and History of International Relations. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

This course has a limited number of places (it is controlled access). In previous years we have been able to provide places for all students that apply but that may not continue to be the case.

Course content

The question of secularity figures prominently in contemporary notions and experiences of diversity and conflict in Europe. What might it mean to consider secularism as a force that bears upon the very conceptual categories employed in imagining and practising diversity and conflict rather than only as a problem addressed through them? In this course, we will explore this question in relation to a series of key concepts including religiosity/secularism, minority/majority, native/migrant, nature/culture, and sex/gender (among others), which frame debates on identarian, religious, and cultural diversity and conflict in Europe today. Through weekly readings discussed collectively in class, we will unpack how such conceptual categories significant to diversity and conflict have been shaped by histories of secularism through (and at the interface of) colonialism, imperialism, nationalism, and nation-state formation. We will read journal articles and/or book chapters (a minimum of two per week) by scholars operating across and between the fields of anthropology, philosophy cultural studies, political science, and history. Each weekly reading will be briefly introduced by a student to facilitate discussion.


This course is delivered through a combination of lectures and seminars totalling a minimum of 25 hours across Winter Term. This course includes a reading week in Week 6 of Winter Term.

Formative coursework

There are two pieces of formative coursework designed to help students prepare for their summative essays:

1. Research question & long (500-word) abstract; submitted in reading week

2. Revised research question & essay draft (c. 1000 words long); presented orally in the final week of term

Indicative reading

  • Balibar, Etienne and Immanuel Wallerstein. 1992. Race, Nation, Class
  • Brown, Wendy. 2008. Regulating Aversion
  • Chidester, David. 2014. Empire of Religion
  • Brown, Wendy. 2013 Is Critique Secular
  • Hall, Stuart. 2018. Essential Essays, Volume 2: Identity and Diaspora
  • Hurd, Elizabeth Shakman. 2017. Beyond Religious Freedom
  • Mamdani, Mahmoud. 2020. Neither Settler Nor Native
  • Mignolo, Walter. 2011. The Darker Side of Western Modernity
  • Asad, Talal. Formations of the Secular
  • Dressler, Markus. 2011.Secularism and Religion Making
  • Stoler, Ann Laura. 2002. Carnal Knowledge and Imperial Power
  • Connolly, William. 2000. Why I am Not a Secularist



Essay (100%, 5000 words) in the ST.

Students will write a 5000-word essay based on a research question they will formulate in consultation with the instructor.

Key facts

Department: European Institute

Total students 2022/23: 19

Average class size 2022/23: 10

Controlled access 2022/23: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Personal development skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication