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Must-Have-Read: Durkheim’s Elementary Forms of Religious Life

  • Teaching staff: dr. Pooyan Tamimi Arab (UU)
  • Course description: Reading a classic cover-to-cover: students and emerging as well as established scholars rarely find the time to do so. This course presents the opportunity to study and discuss one such classic publication. In four or five sessions, dr. Tamimi Arab guides participants through its history, context, and content, and discusses its contemporary relevance.
    In The Elementary Forms of Religious Life (1912), Émile Durkheim set himself the task of discovering the enduring source of human social identity. He investigated what he considered to be the simplest form of documented religion – totemism among the Aborigines of Australia. Aboriginal religion was an avenue ‘to yield an understanding of the religious nature of man, by showing us an essential and permanent aspect of humanity’. The need and capacity of men and women to relate socially lies at the heart of Durkheim’s exploration, in which religion embodies the beliefs that shape our moral universe. The Elementary Forms has been applauded and debated by sociologists, anthropologists, ethnographers, philosophers, and theologians, and continues to speak to new generations about the origin and nature of religion and society.” (Oxford University Press)
  • Material: Participants are expected to purchase the book themselves. Please order the translation by Karin E. Fields published by Simon & Schuster in 1995 (ISBN: 9780029079379).
  • Course objectives: This Must-Have-Read contributes to an advanced understanding of the sociology of religion
  • Dates: October-November 2021. Exact dates and location to be announced.
  • Credits and workload: 2 EC / 56 hours
  • Admission:Open to all, with a preference for (Re)MA students. A maximum number of 20 participants applies to this course.
  • Registration: Registration is expected to start in August 2021.
  • Costs: Participation is free for (Re)MA students and PhD candidates registered at NOSTER or any other research school in the Humanities. The cost to other (Re)MA students and PhD candidates is €100. For more information about membership and costs, click here (for students) or here (for PhD candidates).


  • 12 Oct 2021 11:00-14:00
    October-November 2021. Exact dates and location to be announced.