Nederlandse Onderzoekschool voor Theologie en Religiewetenschap
Netherlands School for Advanced Studies in Theology and Religion

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Home / Grand Course 2017: ‘Masking the Race-Religion Constellation in Europe and the US’

Grand Course 2017: ‘Masking the Race-Religion Constellation in Europe and the US’

Course description:
The NOSTER Grand Course is a biannual intensive two-day course in which junior researchers gain in-depth knowledge on a specific theme that is relevant for both; theologians and religious studies scholars. This year’s theme will be ‘Masking the Race-Religion Constellation in Europe and the US’.

‘Masking the Race-Religion Constellation in Europe and the US’
The topics of race/racism/racialisation and religion/theology are all too often dealt with separately. On a scholarly level, critical studies on the ‘secular’ or religious studies/theology in general, do not engage with critical race/whiteness studies and vice versa. At the same time, public debates on religion (especially Islam and Muslims) are mostly not addressed in terms of (post)colonialism and the history of racialization. This separation is strange since historically colonial racial and religious hierarchies have been closely intertwined. During this course, we will explore these intersectional race-religion constellations: what is hidden and why? And how is this constellation between race and religion related to our own fields of study and our societal contribution as scholars? In addition, we wish to show the empowering and resistance potential of religion and theology (in its collaboration with different religious traditions) and as such we will outline how Black theology and Black churches in the USA have been dealing with this entanglement of whiteness and secularity/Christianity and thus how from its very beginning religion/Black Christian theology played a role in opposition against oppression and violence. This insight will be supplemented by a more European example of the resistance potential of religious traditions taken from the resources of Muslim feminism. From this our focus turns the academic resources to rethink our religious studies/theological canon as well as our responsibility as scholars to contribute to public debates in a critical way. The course will thus only explore new links between theology, religious studies, critical race studies, and decolonial studies, but also consider the ways in which our own academic backgrounds, experiences and affects play a role in the topics under discussion.

  • ‘Judeo-Christian Europe’s practice of Divide and Impera. Masking the race-religion constellation. (Anya Topolski) General introduction to the seminar, mapping the field of race-religion-critical whiteness studies and the race-religion constellation. What does it hide and why?
  • Black theology and resistance (Lucas Johnson) How did/does religion/theology play a role in black resistance against oppression and violence. How is this concept of ‘religion/theology’ different from commonly held notions of religion/theology?
  • Intersectional resistance and Muslimfeminism: Practices and discourses of resistance: which battles to fight, and discourses of resistance from intersectional theory and Islamic theology (Berna Toprak.)
  • Critical race theory and race in academia (Nawal Mustafa & Matthea Westerduin) Introduction to some crucial insights from critical race theory and its importance at the university and in the classroom.
  • Everyday racism, migration discourses, and political engagement as a scholar. (Kolar Aparna & Femke Kraulinfeks)
  • Reflection How are the topics discussed so far related? How does all of this affect us as scholars/theologians and in our work at the university?

The course takes place on December 7&8th 2017. Participation on both days is mandatory. Participants are expected to prepare a key text for each of the four session (t.b.a.). Additional assignments (writing a column, watching a documentary, etc.) will be announced in time. Sessions will include an introduction by an expert in the field, discussion of the key text, and a more ‘hands-on’ application of the material to current debates.

General aims:
To provide participants with conceptual and methodological tools that will enable them to comprehend and respond to debates on ‘race’, religion, and their possible relations. Tools and insights to engage with the ways in which our own experiences and affects play a role in the topics under discussion.


Wednesday December 6th
20.00-22.00     (Recommended) Radboud Reflects presents a Public Lecture by Lucas Johnson on ‘The wrong history of the US’.
How to deal with America’s racist history and its contemporary legacies, in light of recent events in Charlottesville and protests against white supremacy statues. Response: relationalities with European questions on racism and colonialist legacies

Thursday December 7th
09:30               Coffee
09:45-10:00     Welcome and introductions to the day
10:00-11.15     Seminar with Anya Topolski
11:15-11.45     Coffee break
11.45-13:00     Seminar with Lucas Johnson
13:00-14:00     Lunch break
14:00-15:15     Seminar with Berna Toprak
15:15-15:45     Coffee break
15:45-17:00     Discussion

17:30 – 20:00 Diner (optional)

Friday December 8th
09:30               Coffee
09:45-10:00     Introductions to the day
10:00-11.30     Seminar with Nawal Mustafa & Matthea Westerduin
11:30-12:00     Coffee break
12:00-13:30     Femke Kaulingfreks & Kolar Aparna
13:30 -14.30    Lunch break
14:30-16.30     Reflection
15:15-15:45     Coffee break
16.30-18:30     Drinks

 Course Coordination: Matthea Westerduin, Anya Topolski  
2 -5 EC (2 EC for 2 days participation, 40 hours preparation, 3 EC extra for paper writing afterwards)
Level: The course is open to students of accredited Research Master programmes and to PhD-students. In some cases, research-oriented students from other master programmes may be admitted. For further information, please contact the office (
Location: Nijmegen
Required reading: t.b.a.
Course-specific admission requirements: This course is open to all PhD- and Research Master students in the field of Theology and Religious Studies.
Language: All the assigned readings will be in English, as will be the lectures and discussions, unless all the participants should happen to be fluent in Dutch.
Costs: Participation is free for NOSTER members. For those who are no members of NOSTER the fee is € 50,- per EC. For more information about membership/costs per EC, see:
Registration: Those who are interested in following this course can apply until December 1st. Registration is required via the NOSTER website. When logged in to your personal account on the NOSTER website a register button will appear on the right. A certificate of attendance can be given to the participants after finishing the course. In case you are an external student your supervisor has to send NOSTER an email (, giving his or her consent with your participation.



  • 07 Dec 2017 9:00 17:00
    more information t.b.a.
  • 08 Dec 2017 9:00 17:00
    more information t.b.a.


Erasmusplein 1, Nijmegen, Nederland
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