• Offered by School of Culture History and Language
  • ANU College ANU College of Asia and the Pacific
  • Course subject Asian Studies
  • Areas of interest Anthropology, Cultural Studies, History, Pacific Studies, Asia-Pacific Studies
  • Academic career UGRD
  • Course convener
    • Dr Matthew Tomlinson
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Co-taught Course
  • Offered in Second Semester 2016
    See Future Offerings

The idea that gods are dying or already dead has been used in compelling but competing ways. For some, the symbolic death of a god creates the possibility of new life, as in traditional Polynesian rituals of chiefly installation and the Christian narrative of the crucifixion. For others, gods' (or God's) death marks the loss of spiritual force in the modern world; the famous phrase "God is dead" is Nietzsche's, but scholars from many disciplines have contributed to "modern, Western" visions of life and society as sites whose spiritual spark is extinguished. This course follows both paths in investigating God's death, examining the conjunction of religious and political authority in the modern Asia-Pacific, a region of intense negotiation over religion's place in local and national contexts.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

Upon successful completion of this course, students should be able to:

1. Analyse the conjunction and contestation of religious and political authority.
2. Critically examine debates about anthropological, historical analysis and efficacy of ritual.
4. Analyse the political implications of religious models of divine and human subjects.
5. Display analytic insight into religious nationalisms in the Asia-Pacific.
6. Critically utilize case studies when arguing analytical points in writing.
7. Summarize, digest and present the contents of analytical readings for a wider audience.

Indicative Assessment

Tutorial Participation: 10%  1,2,3,4,5,7
Tutorial Presentation and Essay 20% 1500 words 1,2,3,4,5,6,7
Final Essay 40% 3000 words 1,2,3,4,5,6
Final Exam 30% 1,2,3,4,5,6

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.


The course will meet once a week for 13 weeks in S2, 2016 (and in subsequent years). Students will be expected to do 4 hours of reading for each class. Each three-hour session will combine a lecture on theoretical or analytic matters, the introduction of case study materials either from the lecturer's own research, other scholars' ethnographic writing, fiction or film, a break and tutorial-style discussion of the assigned readings for that period.

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must have successfully completed 36 units of university courses.

Prescribed Texts

A selection of readings will be distributed via the Wattle site. 

Preliminary Reading

Handman, Courtney. 2014. Critical Christianity: Translation and Denominational Conflict in Papua New Guinea. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Keane, Webb. 2007. Christian Moderns: Freedom and Fetish in the Mission Encounter. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Rafael, Vicente. 1992. Contracting Colonialism: Translation and Christian Conversion in Tagalog Society under Early Spanish Rule. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Robbins, Joel. 2004. Becoming Sinners: Christianity and Moral Torment in a Papua New Guinea Society. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Tomlinson, Matt, and Debra McDougall, eds. 2013. Christian Politics in Oceania. New York: Berghahn.

Tuwere, Ilaitia Sevati. Vanua: Towards a Fijian Theology of Place. Suva: IPS/USP.

Assumed Knowledge

The course is pitched at a third year level. While no specific disciplinary knowledge is assumed, second year essay writing skills are assumed.



Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.  Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2016 $2718
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2016 $3876
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

ANU utilises MyTimetable to enable students to view the timetable for their enrolled courses, browse, then self-allocate to small teaching activities / tutorials so they can better plan their time. Find out more on the Timetable webpage.

The list of offerings for future years is indicative only.
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

Second Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
9585 18 Jul 2016 29 Jul 2016 31 Aug 2016 28 Oct 2016 In Person N/A

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